First, I want to sincerely thank you for taking the time to read this email and my concerns. Due to the depth of these problems, I will be sending you numerous pictures in separate emails to accurately support my concerns. The level of tolerance the Council has had with the performance, or rather lack of performance, by our current Public Works Director is remarkable, yet also disappointing. I have become increasingly frustrated and bewildered as to why the Council, and perhaps the City Manager too, allows themselves to be constantly misled and embarrassed by Director Anderson’s inability to effectively run the Public Works Department of the City of Port Orange. When will the Council say they have had enough and demand a change in leadership for that department from the City Manager? If the Director of Public Works cannot demonstrate the ability to effectively execute and manage basic landscape maintenance, how can we have confidence in her ability to manage more critical tasks?
On Tuesday evening I addressed the Council and provided accurate photos of numerous areas of concern along Town West Blvd. My remarks prompted the following email and some photos to be sent to the Council by the City Manager; “Mayor and City Council: See report and pictures from Mary Anderson, Public Works Director, on the condition of the medians on Town West. This is in response to concerns expressed by Mr. Cheney with Tuff Turf at Tuesday’s April 22nd City Council meeting. As the memo states the medians were cut and edged on Tuesday, April 22nd so I am not sure when Mr. Cheney took his pictures. The frequency of this median cut is less than what we use for other more visible areas like Dunlawton so at times the “weeds” may grow a little higher than we would like but the frequency of cuts mirrors the specifications in the proposed contract as well as the contract we previously had with Tuff Turf. The challenge is with the infestation of weeds and the specialty grass that was planted in this area.” I would offer that the bigger challenge her is poor management and follow through by the Director of Public Works Director.
For the record, the photographs you were provided by me at the council meeting were taken by me on Monday, April 21st. I travel this area almost every day and have been watching it for weeks get worse and worse, until Monday when I decided it was again time to bring another failure of Director Anderson’s to your attention. I cannot believe that one of the fastest growing areas of positive development in our City has been allowed to look like this. Shameful! I do not dispute that it appears Public Works went out on April 22nd, one day later, and provided some level of service to the area. However, that level of service did not even come close to getting the job done as it should have been. The City Manager’s response to you was that the medians were “cut and edged” on April 22nd. Take a look at Photos numbered TW01 through TW05 taken today (April 25) and see if you think Town West was properly edged and trimmed. Is that acceptable to you?
I want to remind everyone that the Mayor directed the City Manager, more than a month ago, and the Manager indicated he understood, that the landscape maintenance services were to be completed just as it was laid out in the last failed bid document. I would ask that you review the attachment I have included. This is page 31 of 68 of Bid#14-12. This page lays out the requirements of service for Section 2 of the Landscape Maintenance Bid / Contract for areas under a 24 mows per year service frequency. You will notice at the bottom that Town West Blvd. is specifically listed as a location at the bottom. Additionally I would ask that you now take a look at the new pictures I have taken on Friday, April 25th, and compare them to the photos I took on April 21st and provided you previously, as well as the ones Director Anderson provided to Manager Kisela.
Item #2 states; “Contractor will remove all grass and weeds growing between expansion joints, cracks in curbs and concrete lane dividers, walkways and parking areas. Contractor will also remove and dispose of ALL debris generated from maintenance (grass clippings, pruning debris, etc.) upon completion of work.” Now take a look at the photos and ask yourself if this was done as it is directed. Not even close, and possibly not even attempted! See Photos TW06, TW07 and TW08 that clearly show weeds are not being address in the walkway cracks, expansion joints, etc . . . You will also notice from the pictures of these three crosswalks that PW is not blowing off the debris as required.
Item #3 states; Turf areas are to be mowed as often as necessary to keep the area in quality condition, but no less than number of mows as outlined in the bid package. Turf is to be maintained at a height of three and one-half inches (3 ½”). Edging and trimming is to be done each time area is mowed” Again, look at the pictures and you be the judge. Was this area mowed as often as it needed to be to be maintained in “quality condition?” I am confident that all of you know that there is no way the condition of the medians as shown in the photos I took on April 21st got that way in a matter of just a couple of weeks. This area hadn’t, and still hasn’t, been properly maintained, in months! Refer to photos TW01 – TW08 as examples of the lack in “quality condition” as of today’s date. Clearly edging, trimming and blowing off debris is NOT being completed each time the area is being mowed.
Item #4 states; “Contractor will keep all plant beds neatly edged and free of weeds. Contractor will hand weed plant beds no less than one time per month.” (By the way, I did not bold that for effect, it is actually bolded like that in the bid.) So look at the photos, any of them for that matter. I challenge anyone of you to tell me that those beds have been neatly edged and kept free of weeds. Really? Has any effort at all been made to neatly trim these beds or keep them free of weeds. Now, let me be the first to say that weed control is a task that requires a lot of time and close monitoring, but take a look at the photo I took on April 21st with the tall weeds in the median. Then take a look at photo #TW09 that I took on April 25th. YES, that is the same weed, over 30 inches tall!!!! You will notice that the weed is not trying to hide or be evasive, it is pretty much out there in the open for all to admire. Now Director Anderson has reported that Public Works serviced this area on April 22nd. I am not sure how many employees were used for that task, but are we to believe that no one saw this, no one thought, “maybe I should pull that out of the ground.” How about supervision and management? Did anyone examine the area after service to see if everything had been done correctly? By the way, if you go and look for yourself you will see this is not the only weed of such magnificence on display in that area. If weeds like this are going to be allowed to grow much taller than this before they are removed, then they may be able to support the weight of string lights come Christmas time.
Item #5 “Contractor will prune and shape all shrubbery, (“Shrubbery” includes, but is not limited to, hedges, beds, foundation plantings, palmettos and crepe myrtles), to maintain the natural form of the plants and maintain its growth within the plant bed. This will help to eliminate disease, wood rot and provide sight distance requirements where needed.” Take a look at sample photos TW11 and TW12 and see if you think shrubs are being maintained and trimmed properly, or at all for that matter.
Item #6 “Mulch is to be cypress type (decorative ground cover) equal to or better than Forest Pride Colorscape brand sold at Home Depot. Mulch shall be kept clean and fresh at all times and at a depth of 3 – 4 inches. Contractor will remove old mulch and apply new mulch one (1) time per year in March.” I think it is safe to say that you can look at any of the photos from Town West Blvd. and conclude that there has been no attempt whatsoever to comply with this provision. March has come and gone, and we are one week out from the first of May. Where is the new mulch for these beds?
So I know some reading this will be thinking that just because Town West Blvd. looks so deplorable doesn’t mean that the ball is getting dropped elsewhere around the City. Well, hold that thought.
Take a look at these other photos take today (April 25th):
WR01: Willow Run Blvd. an entire strip of grass about 4 feet wide and 40 feet long completely missed.
BH01,BH02 & BH03: Brandy Hills retention area not being mowed or trimmed down to the water edge as required.
SW01, SW02, SW03, SW04, SW05: Southwinds Park area not being mowed, edged and crack weeds not being addressed.
DUN01: Instead of weed trimming and edging, City is just over spraying weed killer around object and killing healthy grass.
DUN04 and DUN05: Does it look like the curbs and sidewalks are getting edged?
SC01 and SC02: Guard rail at north end of Spruce Creek Rd. not being trimmed and cut.
GATE01, GATE02, GATE03, GATE04, GATE05, GATE06: These are pics of the Gatewood retention area. Not be mowed, trimmed, edge and debris not being removed.
HYDRANT: OK, I am really not trying to insult anyones intelligence with this one, but please tell me that we all recognize that tall item growing beside the fire hydrant is a weed and is not supposed to be there. It seems as though great care has been taken to mow and trim around it, instead of remove it. No tree permit is required to remove it, at least at it’s current height!
Gentleman, why is this being tolerated by council? Does anyone think this is going to improve under the current management plan and practices? This is a mere sample of the problems with the landscape maintenance around the City. If Director Anderson can’t deliver on getting things done in accordance to the bid/contract now, just imagine how bad it will be in June and July. Is this what you want for our community? I am sure you realize by now the volume of this failure. However, it is not the failure of not getting the job done properly and as prescribe that concerns me the most, but rather the fact that the Council is continually being mislead and deceived on these issues.