The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors approved a change order of up to $75,000 toward the completion of Acreage Community Park’s southern expansion on Wednesday, June 24 to replace dead or dying trees and other foliage at the back of the park before work begins on paving.
The $75,000 will not be the final amendment to the current contract, which will be discussed in further detail at the board’s meeting on July 1.
The board has been meeting weekly since terminating a contract with the previous park contractor for mistakes and delays with the project. The proposed change order total was for $230,000.
The goal is to get the park in shape for a certificate of occupancy from Palm Beach County, but many of the original plantings have died or are dying due to neglect during the contract transition.
Project Manager Jim Orth with Craig A. Smith & Associates said he had tried without success to get the original landscaping subcontractor to fix the deficiencies, so the new contractor found a new firm, Jenkins Landscape, to do the irrigation and landscaping. After assessing the site, it came up with a sizeable list of foliage that might need replacement, totaling almost $129,000.
“They were directed to look and get unit prices for everything out there just in case something died later on,” Orth said.
Dan Sorrow with the landscape architecture firm Cotleur & Hearing, who has been working with the landscaping firm in preparation for the certificate of occupancy, said the contract is in three parts, which includes fertilization and a three-month maintenance agreement. He said the fertilization is important to salvage plants that have not died yet, adding that much of the material there will not meet the standards to get a CO from the county.
“Decline set in with a lot of the material, and it is going to have to be replaced,” Sorrow said, adding that weeds have overtaken a lot of the existing landscape. He recommended outright replacement as less expensive than trying to save what’s there.
ITID President Betty Argue was shocked at the price and asked if total replacement of the plantings was necessary. Sorrow said the contract with the original landscaping subcontractor came with a one-year guarantee.
ITID Assistant Executive Director Rob Robinson confirmed that weeds had choked out much of the ground cover, and some of the sable palms and smaller pine trees had died, but did not feel a change order totaling $230,000 was needed, adding that some of the work could be done in-house.
Robinson recommended replacing the dead or improperly planted sabal palms in the retention areas at the back of the park, along with the fertilization and mulching that Sorrow had encouraged.
Argue pointed out that the change orders are now over $1 million and that the previous landscape contractor had been paid in full.
“I’m not happy as well,” said Supervisor Tim Sayre, asking who was responsible for what appeared to have been numerous errors.
Supervisor Joni Martin was also disappointed.
“Instead of trying to point fingers, is there a way to defer this to next week to get a more thorough accounting of what staff could do?” Martin asked. “I already made a plan to go with Rob to see the park. This is really quite outrageous.”
She asked for some research on what could be done in-house.
Martin made a motion to defer a decision to next week, seconded by Sayre, but the motion failed 3-2.
Robinson said that it was crucial that the trees in the retention area be replaced so that paving could commence in two and a half weeks.
“All the trees need to be put in prior to paving,” he said. “We don’t want construction vehicles crossing over them.”
Supervisor Jennifer Hager made a motion to approve $75,000 for tree replacement in the retention ponds, fertilization and mulching, and for staff to come back with a revised proposal, which carried 3-2 with Martin and Sayre opposed.