Although he didn’t have an opportunity to review the request for proposals for Siesta Village upkeep before it was published May 31, Mark Smith, chairman of the Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp., said June 6 that he was “pleasantly surprised” by its contents.
“What we wanted to have in it is in it,” Smith told The Sarasota News Leader. “It’s very thorough.”
Still, Smith said, he had sent an email to Tom Maroney, general manager of business operations in the county’s Public Works Department, to ask why he was not allowed to review the RFP before it went out.
Maroney, who has supervised the Village upkeep since mid-August 2011, had assured Smith he would be accorded a review of the RFP before its release, Smith added.
Maroney told the News Leader that Smith had seen “the scope of services” that the RFP was going to include. “We basically used the model he provided. … The specifications stayed pretty much the same.”
Maroney also pointed out that Smith had been invited to the June 21 pre-bid conference with interested firms. That is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Village Gazebo. “He’s going to be involved,” Maroney said of Smith.
Smith said he had distributed copies of the 82-page RFP to all of his board members, seeking their comments.
Sarasota County staff has been handling the Village maintenance since a contract between the Maintenance Corp. and the SKMVC expired on Aug. 15, 2011. James K. Harriott Jr., director of the county’s Public Works Department, had told the County Commission in July 2011 that he expected to have a new vendor in place by the end of the year.
However, in the wake of the county’s Procurement Department scandal last year, it took months for new staff in that department to clear the RFP for publication.
A lawsuit filed against the county on Jan. 31, 2011, by Siesta Village property owner Chris Brown, questioning expenses for the Village upkeep, had led to a revision of the county ordinance governing the upkeep and to the new RFP. The original ordinance was crafted to make sure the Village continued to look good after the county paid for a beautification project in 2008-09.
With no indication of the timeline for the release of the RFP — following months of queries to county staff — Siesta Village representatives, including Smith, had asked Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson as recently as May 21 to check on the RFP’s status. Patterson had conveyed that to County Administrator Randall Reid.
During the June 5 Siesta Key Village Association meeting, Smith said he had not had an opportunity to review the RFP. He added that about eight or nine vendors already were on the list of those interested in bidding on the contract.
A check by the News Leader early in the afternoon of June 6 showed several others had joined the list, bringing the number to 15.
Smith also told the SKVA members that the bids were scheduled to be opened at 2:30 p.m. July 11 at the Sarasota County Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota.
According to usual practice, Smith said, he expected the Procurement Department staff to recommend the bid be awarded to the company offering to do the work for the least amount of money.
That recommendation will come before the County Commission for final approval.
Regarding the reimbursement to the SKVA for expenses it had incurred in setting up the Maintenance Corp., including the state corporate filing fee, Smith said he had received the final receipts requested by the County Commission. Once he turned those receipts over to county staff, Smith said, the SKVA should receive its payment.
Smith said he expected the amount to be about $2,000.
At the request of the SKVA and the SKVMC, the County Commission had voted on April 11 to repay the SKVA for handling those early expenses, before county staff became involved more directly with the Village maintenance work.
In the June 6 interview with the News Leader, Smith pointed to some of the language in the RFP that he had found particularly interesting.
For example, he said, county staff had “counted every single plant in the Village,” so the bidding vendors would know the exact number.
Smith said Roz Hyman, a member of the Maintenance Corp. board, had reported seeing county staff on site conducting that count.
He also noted that the RFP calls for Siesta Village to be maintained in a “resort-like manner,” and that the plant beds are to be kept weed-free.
The following are among other facets provided in the RFP, based on a News Leader review:
• The SKVMC will inspect the maintenance on a monthly basis “to determine whether the work is being performed in accordance with specifications and shall review with the Vendor any deficiencies to be corrected or brought up to project specifications.”
• “The Vendor shall provide a Supervisor who is directly responsible for the work performed.” That supervisor must provide contact information that is readily available, so the person can be reached during working hours if the person is not on site.
• All decorative trash cans and ashtrays in the public right of way must be emptied five days a week — Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday — from Feb. 1 through Aug. 15; and four days a week from Aug. 16 through Jan. 31.
• “… as part of the cleaning requirements, the successful Vendor will be responsible for graffiti removal found on any of the beautification project hardscape and decorative fixtures.”
• “All shrub areas and planting beds shall be maintained twice a week by removing all paper, trash, cigarette butts, and other undesirable material and debris to keep the landscape beds neat and tidy. Blowers are not an acceptable tool for this maintenance. This litter must be picked up and physically removed and properly disposed.”
• “Power blowers/apparatus must be used at appropriate times and in a manner that does not interfere with any outdoor dining or other customer services.”