Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 09/23/2015  

Receive, consider and act upon the award of bid for Park and Pathway Maintenance Services;
$1,922,247 has been allocated in the 2016 Budget for contracted park and pathway maintenance services and  funding for the maintenance of the projected future new parks and pathways and additional as-needed services that may occur from time to time.  This amount  includes base services for all existing parks and pathways and  cul-de-sac islands.  In addition, $145,610 is budgeted for landscape maintenance for the fire stations, Town Hall and the Town Center park facilities for a total 2016 budget of $2,067,857.

The 2015 Budget for contracted park and pathway maintenance services is $1,565,800, The current base value of the contract with the current contractor BIO Landscape is $1,340,029.39 which includes maintenance services for parks & pathways, fire stations, and small & jumbo cul-de-sac islands. The Township has additional landscape maintenance contracts with other companies for all weather turf maintenance and Town Hall for a total base 2015 maintenance expense $1,414,885.39. Additional as-needed services include such items as irrigation repairs, landscape improvements, replacement plantings, etc., and are in addition to base services. These services typically range from $200,000 to $300,000 per year.
The recommended award of bid totals $2,235,062.  The variance between the approved 2016 budget and recommended award of bid amount is $167,205 and would be funded by an offsetting reduction in and  reallocation from the Streetscape Maintenance Budget as the recommendation includes services currently provided through the Streetscape Maintenance contract.  
The Woodlands Township's parks and pathways system currently has 133 parks, 210 miles of pathway, 360 jumbo cul-de-sac islands and intracts and 1,371 small cul-de-sac islands.  The maintenance contract also includes eight fire stations, the Emergency Training Center, the Parks, Recreation and Environmental Services campus, The Woodlands Recreation Center, Town Hall and the specialized maintenance of six all weather turf sport fields.   

Streetscape maintenance and park and pathway maintenance are some of the most visible services provided by the Township. In recent years, the Township has experienced an increase in complaints and service requests related to the quality and frequency of park and pathway maintenance, including budget-related requests from several village associations. Based on this feedback and staff-identified concerns and opportunities for efficiencies, the scope and standards for these services have been revised from the previous contract in order to better meet community expectations. As outlined in this memo, three bids were received and reviewed and staff’s recommendation is based on the best value, taking into consideration the cost of the bids provided, the quality and performance of bidders and the ability to gain improved management authority over the proposed contractor. Full details and analysis are provided below.
The current contractor, Bio Landscape, was awarded the contract in 2010 for a three year term. In 2013, the Board of Directors approved a two year extension, with the contract ending December 31, 2015. Over the course of the past nine months, staff has reviewed the current park and pathway scope of services and maintenance standards and developed improved and enhanced scope and standards for the 2016 - 2018 maintenance contract.  The revised standards address issues related to certifications of the landscape maintenance contractor, tighter specifications for mowing, mulching, irrigation, tree pruning and removal, pathway blowing and other items.  Significant changes to the park and pathway standards between the current contract standards and the revised and updated standards proposed include but are not limited to:
  • Trash removal from parks three times per week, including a Saturday service as opposed to a two times per week service (Monday and Friday).
  • Recycling services at Northshore Park, Rob Fleming Park and the sportfield complexes
  • Pathway blowing 52 times per year as opposed to 38 times per year
  • For each round of pathway mowing/trimming and cul de sac maintenance a Global Positioning System (GPS) or similar and approved reporting device must be used to document the system as being maintained per the specifications
  • Creation of a Tier A1 - enhanced Turf Standard for Town Hall, Central Fire Station, Emergency Training Center (entrance) and The Woodlands Recreation Center
  • Revisions to the baseline aeration, overseeding and fertilization program for sportfields
  • Established time periods with deadlines for when certain services are to be performed such as soil tests, bed mulching, pine straw, etc. For example, “Flower beds and shrub beds will be mulched two (2) times annually with non-colored hardwood at a depth of 3” at Waterway Square, Town Green Park, Riva Row, Northshore Park, Rob Fleming Park, Olmstead Park, and all Tier A1 Facilities. The first mulch of the year shall be between January 1 and February 15 of each contract year. The second mulch of the year shall be between July 15 and August 15 of each contact year.  All other parks shall be mulched once (1) annually, no later than March 15 of each contract year
(Please see Attachment A for the  2016-2018 Park and Pathway Maintenance Bid Packet).

The park and pathway maintenance scope and  standards for the new contract were revised from the current standards due to comments, complaints and input from residents over the last several years and from staff’s review of how to improve and enhance the overall maintenance based on the community’s use of the parks and pathway  system.   In addition, there are a number of parks and facilities added to the base that are not currently  part of the scope of services of the current contractor including Town Hall, and new parks such as Gosling Sportfields, Pondera Parks, and Creekside Park Village Green.

A component of the bid was to identify if there were potential efficiencies in combining certain components of the streetscape maintenance program into the parks and pathway maintenance program.  In total, 76 parks were identified as having an adjacent neighborhood entrance, maintained through the Streetscape contract,that could be included in the park and pathway maintenance contract.  This was based on similar equipment used at that specific park and proximity of the park to the neighborhood entrance.  With this information, an Alternate Bid was developed which required the vendors to provide the following pricing options:
  1. All parks and pathways
  2. Streetscape areas as identified (76 entrances)
  3. Price for the remaining parks, if those parks with streetscape areas were removed from the park and pathway maintenance program

The bid was advertised in The Villager and on The Woodlands Township website beginning May 14, 2015 and sent to several known landscape maintenance companies.  A mandatory pre-bid meeting was held on May 29, 2015 with nine  landscape companies attending.  Three addendums were issued to bidders to clarify questions and concerns regarding the specifications.  The due date for bids was July 17, 2015.  Three  companies submitted bids (Attachment B) and a overall bid tabulation has been prepared (Attachment C) with a summary below:

    Maldonado Bio Landscaping Brickman
Annual Cost
Annual Cost
Annual Cost
Parks and Pathway Maintenance
Yearly Park/Facility Maintenance   $2,806,964 $1,438,819 $1,885,947
Yearly Pathway Maintenance   196,350 425,244 168,793
Yearly Jumbo Cul-de-sac Maintenance   47,712 98,800 74,256
Yearly Small Cul-de-sac Maintenance   113,107 32,355 9,973
Fire Station Yearly Maintenance   84,394 18,957 59,841
Total   $3,248,527 $2,014,175 $2,198,810
Alternate A - Neighborhood Entrances (not inclusive of the parks attached)   $397,281 $88,802 $291,291
Alternate A1 - price without Parks with a Streetscape area   $1,394,384 $1,397,079 $1,334,519
Alternate B - All Weather Turf Bi Weekly Maint (26) 26 $33,249 No Bid $23,764
Alternate C - Quarterly Maintenance (3) 3 $62,976 No Bid $4,446
Alternate D - As Needed (1) 1 $2,840 No Bid $5,026

Bid Conditioning 
BIO Landscape and Maintenance, Inc:
BIO submitted the lowest bid at an annual cost of $2,014,175. While the variance between the 2010 and the 2015 bids is significant, there should be some recognition of the differences in the current standards and proposed enhanced standards and the addition of facilities not included in the current Park and Pathway contract for all bids submitted.
In conditioning the bids, the team noticed a significant increase in pathway maintenance cost which increased from $26,765.71 to $425,244. When asked by staff if this number was correct, the following response was received from Bio Landscape:

“For the Pathway Maintenance portion of the Contract, we also leaned very heavily on our knowledge and experience of the contract while also taking into account the increase in scope for pathway blowing to fifty-two times per year. Utilization of the pathway system will only continue to increase by The Woodlands residents; knowing the scope, expectations and what it takes to perform, this is an area within the contract we significantly increased our labor allotment for the upcoming contract. We are confident this is the dollar amount necessary to provide service to this area of the Park and Pathway Contract”
Bio Landscape submitted  a “no-bid” for the All Weather Turf Maintenance due to lacking the needed experience in this area. In addition, their small cul-de-sac bid price was significantly lower than the costs that were incurred in 2015 ($105,308-2015; $32,335- 2016 bid).  In their response, they indicated that as having a year with this project they realized the staff and time needed thus they were able to reduce their costs. Other items in their supplemental price list were also conditioned to ensure all prices are correct.
BIO has many large contracts in the Houston area specializing in right-of-way mowing, detail landscape work, irrigation and construction projects. They currently have 500 employees.  BIO  is a Yellowstone Landscape Company which was ranked #13 in the top 150 Lawn & Landscape companies in 2014 by Lawn & Landscape Magazine.  Their headquarters are in Burnell, Florida and have offices in Florida, Texas, South Carolina and Georgia.  Due to receiving the contract in 2010,  they established a branch location located on 2978 and 1488 for easy access in and out of the community.
Over the course of the last five years, Bio has spent time learning the community and developing the needed infrastructure (staff, materials and equipment) to ensure contract compliance.  During the first year of the Agreement, Bio Landscape had a sharp learning curve due to the level of infrastructure needed for the scope of work in the agreement (staffing, equipment, time, material).  In the second year, the Board approved using a third party inspector to ensure contract compliance. This effort assisted both staff and the contractor and standards were generally met to the staff's and community’s satisfaction.  A degree of satisfaction was held with the contractor during years 3, 4 and earlier this year. However during the last few months, there have been numerous resident complaints and staff concerns with ensuring the pathway maintenance and general park standards are being met to the specifications. Bio was issued notices of non-compliance with the contract terms and specifications. Per discussions with Bio, they indicated they were challenged due to staffing issues and the Spring rains which caused fast growing grasses and understory that needed to be trimmed more aggressively. While they were out of compliance,  a plan was formulated with staff to ensure compliance by the start of school for the pathways and general park areas. 
The Brickman Group:
Brickman submitted the second lowest bid at an annual cost of $2,198,810. Brickman is also the sub-contractor to The Woodlands Land Development Company for the Streetscape Maintenance Contract.  
During the bid conditioning phase questions were posed to Brickman to ensure the accuracy of their numbers regarding all weather turf maintenance, irrigation part mark-ups an the cost of the small cul de sac program.  Their small cul-de-sac bid price was lower than the costs that were incurred in 2015 ($105,308-2015; $9,973- 2016 bid).  When asked to clarify this price, Brickman provided the following information: 

Most of these Small Cul De Sacs are very close to areas that we already maintain.  The speck calls for April or May, our goal would be to complete these as early as acceptable by the Township which allows us to utilize our guys before full fledge every week mowing would occur.

Other items in their supplemental price list were also conditioned to ensure all prices are correct.
The Brickman Group was ranked #2 in the top 150 Lawn & Landscape companies in 2014 by Lawn & Landscape Magazine.  Currently, they are in the process of merging with Valley Crest Landscape thus making the largest landscape management company in the nation with sales valuing $1.8 billion. Company headquarters are in Gaithersburg, MD with 10,000 total employees. They have a branch office in The Woodlands and they service Hewitt, Carlton Woods Association, and John Cooper School to name a few.
Staff has no concerns with The Brickman Groups’ bid or ability to perform and execute the specifications of the contract.
Maldonado Nursery and Landscape
Maldonado submitted the highest bid at an annual cost of $3,248,527. Maldonado indicated they have 30 years of experience and they are one of the largest privately owned landscape and irrigation contractors in the state of Texas. They have offices located in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, the Rio Grande Valley & Corpus Christi and have risen to the 43rd largest landscaping company in the top 150 Lawn & Landscape companies in 2014 by Lawn & Landscape Magazine.  While Maldonado submitted a bid that was as much at double the other companies for certain line items they also submitted a bid for the All Weather Turf component totaled $165,563 as opposed to Brickman’s submittal of $36,252 per year. Other items in their supplemental price list were also conditioned to ensure all prices are correct.
Bid Conditioning – How to Analyze Bids
Overall, the bids received were well developed and the contractors understood the complexity of the specifications and the system. As this is the fourth time since 2006 this contract has been bid, the Township has good knowledge and experience with the process and issues to consider. In addition, valuable insight to these types of bid processes was gained from a third party professional, Dr. Todd Watson, of Texas A&M, who was retained in 2007 to analyze the similarly complex Streetscape Maintenance bids.  Dr. Watson advised the following at that time:
  • As a general rule, quality contractors will tend to submit bid prices “to create the effect intended by the Owner/Managing Agent” as specified in the specifications.  Other contractors tend to compete on price alone requiring the specifications to be enforced on a frequent basis.  Low-bid contractors typically create additional work for the managing agent because they fail to provide the “other services” (e.g. meetings, reports, timely response, etc.) not specifically outlined in the specs.  I have consulted on properties where the property owner/manager was allured by a low bid price (against my recommendation) assuming that all contractors were bidding “apples to apples”.  The quality of maintenance suffered on these properties, and the property managers had to expend additional resources to police the contractors and to re-solicit bids and hire new contractors that bid the properties as specified.  
  • When bidding on specifications, the current contractor always has the best understanding of the scope of work and associated costs.  If there are huge inconsistencies between the bids of competing contractors and the current contractor, as is the case for The Woodlands, then this indicates that the new bidders probably do not fully comprehend the amount or intensity of services that will be required.  
  • Contractors sometimes bid landscape maintenance jobs below the fair market price with the intention of up-selling to profit on future work that is not part of the contracted bid price.  This includes plant installation, irrigation repair, and other extra services.  Unfortunately, this is common in the industry because bidders can cancel most landscape contracts with few penalties if anticipated profits fail to materialize.
Bid Conditioning – Supplemental Service
A  component of the park and pathway maintenance contract is supplemental services that are requested of the contractor on an “as needed” basis by the Township. This is needed to be able to respond to unpredictable conditions that may arise throughout the contract period.  Examples are additional weekend trash removal, landscape and sod repairs, tree removal and additional sports turf top dressing. The supplemental services are also how new  park and pathways are are added to the master contract as they are developed and accepted in the system.  
To ensure an “apples to apples” comparison of the three vendors, staff reviewed historical information on supplemental services used and forecasted additional parks that will be coming on line to understand the total cost of an agreement.  Please see Attachment C3, for an analysis for the supplemental services and the historical use of these services. Overall, while the vendor’s prices may range greatly for individual services, the total sum of the services is as follows:
  • Bio Landscape -    $261,024.70
  • Brickman Group - $262,928.25
  • Maldonado -         $410,546.75
It should be noted that each time a service is needed, staff will review the cost of the additional services and determine if the cost is warranted and if there are other less expensive means of providing the service, including sourcing it in house or through another vendor.
Bid Conditioning – Analysis of Standards and Additional Parks
As identified above a number of the landscape maintenance standards were revised due to residents and community comments received by the Parks and Recreation Department over the last several years, and from staff’s review of how to improve and enhance the overall maintenance based on the community’s use of the parks system.  Using the supplemental pricing and per park bids submitted by the three vendors  an analysis was conducted to determine impact of these additions. The total estimated impact of the projected new park additions is $62,942 which is inclusive of the all-weather turf maintenance and $316,787 for the enhanced standards which totals $379,729.  Using the two lowest bidders (Bio and Brickman) and averaging these prices ($2,106,462.50) then deducting the cost increase due to new parks and standards equals $1,726,763.50. 
Per the contract, there are have been no CPI increases, thus if the base value of the agreement had a 3% factor, the adjusted value would be $1,592,465, approximately $134,298 lower than the “base” value of the averaged contract amount when new park and updated standards are factored.  It should also be noted that in 2010, Bio Landscaped indicated underbidding the contract to obtain the contract thus allowing them to establish a larger portfolio with The Woodlands as its main contract.
Bid Review-Alternates
All Weather Turf Maintenance-
Currently, The Woodlands Township has two contractors providing maintenance for the all weather turf (fields and common areas) in the community- MDH Turf and Brickman which totals $46,856 per year. Both of these contracts are set to expire December 31, 2015.   Two  bids were received as alternates for the turf maintenance- Maldonado and Brickman, with Brickman being the lowest bid.  As it is a challenge to make an Alternate a separate contract as the alternate bid may have been conditional on receiving the whole contract, an all weather turf price was requested from Brickman without being awarded the overall contract. Their price for Alternates B, C, D, and E total $46,769 per year.  Brickman has been conducting the bi-weekly maintenance on the sportfields since their inception and The Township has been pleased with the results.
Streetscape System –
A component of this bid was to identify potential efficiencies in combining certain components of the streetscape system within the parks and pathway maintenance program due in part to the terms outlined in the Comprehensive Community Services Agreement (CCSA). Alternate Bids were requested which required the vendors to provide the following pricing options: All parks; Streetscape areas as identified (76 parks with adjacent neighborhood entrances); price for the remaining parks, if those parks with streetscape areas were removed from the park and pathway maintenance program. 
While there may be some efficiencies realized, there are challenges with managing the concept.  In essence, 20% of the community’s neighborhood entrances would be maintained by one contractor while the remaining 80% would be maintained by the other.  Secondly, while standards are provided to each contractor the method in which they execute the standards will be different thus a uniform look throughout the community may not be realized.  In addition, it is conceivable that when touring the community there could be one contractor maintaining one entrance, the next contractor maintains the next entrance and the first contractor maintains the third entrance. This aspect may cause confusion for residents on who maintains what in the community.  Furthermore, each entrance located next to each other may not be maintained at the same time. For example, Contractor A may maintain an entrance on the first and 10th day of the month, while the second contractor would maintain the entrance on the 5th and 15th day of the month, however both are keeping within the 10 day standard. This type of confusion for residents already occurs frequently when one jumbo cul-de-sac is mowed one week and the one next to it is mowed the following week.
Other challenges with comparing the bids presented as an Alternate with the cost in the Streetscape contract are related to how each contract was bid and structured. The Park and Pathway scope was bid as a lump sum, i.e. how much to maintain an area on a yearly basis. The Streetscape system is developed as a time and materials contract with The Woodlands Development Company and their sub-contractor The Brickman Group.  Please see Attachment D for a breakdown of costs related to the Streetscape Program, from the bids submitted as Alternates.
The lowest cost for the parks with streetscape areas and the lowest cost for those streetscape areas (76 entrances) totals $580,674. The lowest bidder for those parks without streetscape areas would be Brickman at a total cost of $1,207,086, thus totaling $1,787,760 for all parks and the 76 streetscape areas. As the total cost for the Parks to be done by Bio is $1,438.819, merging a portion of the systems would realize in an additional cost of $348,941 as opposed to a savings. Assuming The Township would receive a savings in the Streetscape contract of $291,291 from TWDC/Brickman, there would still be no net savings by attempting this approach.

Option A        Award the bid for park and pathway maintenance services to BIO Landscape & Maintenance, Inc. for a three year contract in the amount of $2,014,175.00 per year;  Award the bid for all weather turf maintenance in the amount of $46,769 per year to The Brickman Group, LTD.  This option totals $2,060,944.
Option B       Per the terms of the Comprehensive Community Services Agreement (CCSA), The Township can remove items from the Streetscape Maintenance Program, which includes neighborhood entrances. As noted above there are inherent challenges of having 20% of the entrances maintained by one contractor and the remaining 80% by another contractor.  To manage this challenge, all of the neighborhood entrances could be moved to a single contractor along with the park and pathways. This model would afford the following:
  • All neighborhood entrances being mowed at the same time
  • All parks with neighborhood entrances being mowed at the same time with respect to the park
  • Direct Township management of the neighborhood entrances in the community. In 2019, The Township will take over the complete responsibility of the streetscape system, thus this concept would advance this concept.
  • One contractor working on landscape and grounds management in the community, thus the same level of services is being provided uniformly throughout the community to parks and entrances
    Due to these issues an option would be to award the bid for park and pathway maintenance services, inclusive of the all weather turf, to Brickman Group in the amount of $2,235,062 per year ($2,198,810 base contract + $36,252 all weather turf).
    While there is a $174,118 difference in cost ($184,635 increase in the base cost and a reduction in cost of $10,517 in the all weather turf cost), it is believed further economies of scale can be realized by The Township staff, The Woodlands Development Company  and Brickman which could be more than the difference between the two contractors. Upon the conclusion of the first six months  of the Agreement, during the 2017 Budget process,  staff would report back to the Board with the actual cost savings and projected future savings. This option  would require a reallocation of budget dollars from the Streetscape Maintenance Budget and to the Parks Operations Budget.

Staff believes that this option to award the Park and Pathway Maintenance Services bid to The Brickman Group including the transfer of all neighborhood entry maintenance services from the Streetscape Contract to the Park and Pathway Contract provides the overall best value to the Township along with improved quality, efficiency and increased management control over streetscape operations. 
Based upon the results of the competitive bidding process, the conditioning of the bids including the evaluation of performance and quality, and considering the efficiencies and management authority gained through the transfer of services from the Streetscape Contract to the Park and Pathway Contract, which collectively provides the best value to the Township, it is recommended to award the bid for park and pathway maintenance and all –weather turf services to The Brickman Group, LTD. in the amount of $2,235,062 per year and authorize the President/General Manager to execute the necessary contract for a three year term with two options to extend the contract for one periods. 
Attachment C - Bid Tabulation
Attachment C3 - Supplemental Services Analysis
Attachment D - Streetscape Maintenance Cost Analysis


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