The Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District Board of Supervisors authorized its staff Monday to respond to a request for proposals by the Town of Loxahatchee Groves for maintenance of gravel roads, including grading, mowing and vegetative removal.
The town issued a request for proposals in January, and district staff, with the help of Supervisor John Ryan, developed a methodology for submitting a sealed bid that would include the cost of materials, fuel, equipment and labor, and assign hourly and/or per-mile estimates for the work, according to District Administrator Stephen Yohe, who requested a motion to authorize staff to respond before the March 15 deadline.
Supervisor Frank Schiola said it did not matter to him whether the LGWCD won the contract, as long as district roads are maintained.
“We have canal banks that are sliding in,” he noted. “It has been going on for a while. There are other things that need to be done, and I just don’t want the district staff to have to do work that we’re committed to for the town, and we can’t get our work done.”
Ryan said he considered the district winning a contract as a way to provide low-cost road maintenance for residents.
“We’re looking at this as not a kind of a winner-take-all contract,” Ryan said. “We’re looking at trying to provide a responsive bid for consideration by the town to include us in a roster of firms that can be called on to do work within a responsible response time.”
Ryan explained that he would expect the district, if it is selected, to be one of several contractors available to perform the work.
“We look at this town as a body of landowners who pay ad valorem taxes to the town, and pay acre assessments to the district, so to the extent that we can competently and efficiently provide work for the town and it benefits the town, we look at that as something that’s in the interest our landowners,” he said. “We’re not looking to profit, but we are looking to recover costs and provide a benefit.”
During public comment, Councilman Ron Jarriel said he agreed with Ryan that in the future, there would not be a delineation between district and town roads.
“Both entities are working on becoming one,” Jarriel said. “I personally don’t believe that the district will ever catch up with all the work that they have to do, so when you use that as an excuse not to grade my road or do my hedge, it upsets me because I pay as much as the people on what you want to call a district road.”
Jarriel added that he did not like Schiola’s distinction between district and town roads.
“Some people say the district is going to run out of work when we pave all the roads,” Jarriel said. “If you’re naïve enough to believe that, then I feel for you because the district will always have work for the men who work here, so I expect all the residents to be created equal. When the town pays the district, we recycle our funds and our revenues back into this town. When we pay a private contractor, our money goes out of this town, and I personally don’t like it.”
However, Jarriel did support the idea of having three or four contractors on call for when work needs to be done, “so that if the district cannot break away and do it for us and save the residents money, then we get the next guy in line and get the services done for the taxpayers.”
Supervisor Don Widing said that with the paving of roads with open-graded emulsified mix (OGEM), the district’s role is going to change.
“If we want to improve our road network, it’s only going to come with a cost containment called maintenance,” he said. “We do not yet have a structured program for maintenance on these roads in place, and we need to start talking about it right away.”
Widing said he spent a lot of time with the OGEM contractors when existing segments were done and learned a lot about the process, including how it is preserved, which is periodic reapplication of the emulsifier. “That’s going to keep costs down to us as taxpayers,” he said.
Ryan made a motion to authorize staff to complete the RFP, which carried 5-0.
In other business, the board also agreed to put out a request for proposals for aquatic weed control.
Yohe pointed out that on Feb. 11, the board instructed staff not to renew its contract with DTC Environmental Services, which expired Feb. 24. The board also directed staff to prepare a request for proposals for aquatic weed control and utilize temporary services in the meantime.
Staff retained the services of Aquagenics and TRE Group. Aquagenics is responsible for the area from the D Road Canal to the east, including the D Road Canal, and TRE Group is responsible for the area west of the D Road Canal. “They began their services last Thursday,” Yohe said, explaining that the new RFP will be identical to the one issued last year, except for the dates.
Ryan said he wants to make sure that the contractor understands that district staff will be receiving calls from residents about conditions of the canals, and that staff will also be evaluating canal vegetation and passing it on to the contractor.
“We try to give the contractors an idea of the number of procedures that they’ve got to carry out at different times of the year, but we don’t want them to understand that those are minimum/maximum,” Ryan said. “Certainly if the vegetation gets a growth spurt, we need to get to it before it becomes a problem.”
Ryan said the contractor has to understand that it would need to make additional treatments in warmer times, and address whatever problems as they arise.