Homestead

Homestead leaders complain about landscaping contractor

 

atorres@MiamiHerald.com

Homestead officials accused their contracted landscaping company of doing a “sloppy” job and suggested it was time to consider a new vendor.

Mayor Steven Bateman said there were issues with ValleyCrest Landscape Development all over the city, such as the weeds being higher than the plants and dead plants not being replaced fast enough. ValleyCrest has a contract to maintain landscaping on city property.

“Every week when I drive through Homestead on my inspection tours, I report dead or run-over plants … There is no reason why we can’t look like a Doral or Pinecrest,” Bateman said in an email Friday. 

Bateman asked city staff to look into the possibility of taking away ValleyCrest’s contract or cutting it in half so that two separate vendors could split up the work. 

“We changed landscaping companies to get more care and quicker response and it just hasn’t happened,” Bateman said. “These are large contracts at roughly $700,000, making this a very important issue.” 

This is not the first time landscaping has triggered a discussion on whether Homestead needs to revamp the way it awards contracts using taxpayer’s money. 

In 2010, Bateman requested that a company named South Dade Landscaping work on a project on U.S. 1. City staff told him that this would not be possible because the project would have to go out to bid. There were 20 bids recorded — South Dade Landscaping’s bid was the highest. But the company still got the job. 

In another instance, the council awarded ValleyCrest a contract, even though the company was not the lowest bidder and was improperly given a 10 percent local vendor preference. Homestead’s ordinances allow officials to give preference to vendors who have offices in the city to promote local businesses. 

The ValleyCrest landscaping empire reported $880 million revenue in 2012, has about 3,100 employees in Florida. Headquarters is in Calabasas, Calif.

ValleyCrest’s Regional Manager Charles Gonzalez has overseen landscaping in hotels like Atlantis in the Bahamas, the Setai, The Lowes and the Shore Club in South Beach. 

“To my knowledge there have been no issues of performance with our contract,” Gonzalez said. 

City spokeswoman Begoñe Cazalis said in an email that there are no complaints on file to date. 

But Councilman Jimmie Williams III said the impoverished southwest part of the city, which “has been neglected for years” needs more attention, and complained about lack of attention to Southwest Fourth Street and Krome Avenue. 

“It’s an eyesore,” Williams said. “. It’s just one of those communities that have been left out. … We don’t get those things that others take for granted in other neighborhoods. It’s an ongoing problem.” 

Read more Breaking News stories from the Miami Herald

  • CORPORATE EARNINGS

    AutoNation profit up 15 percent

    AutoNation, the country’s largest car dealership chain, shrugged off winter storms that cut auto sales early this year and posted a nearly 15 percent increase in first-quarter net income.

  •  
South Korean Coast Guard officers try to rescue missing passengers from a sunken ferry in the water off the southern coast near Jindo, south of Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Fears rose Thursday for the fate of more than 280 passengers still missing more than 24 hours after their ferry flipped onto its side and filled with water off the southern coast of South Korea. (AP Photo/Yonhap) KOREA OUT

    Evacuation came too late for many on sinking ferry

    An immediate evacuation order was not issued for the ferry that sank off South Korea's southern coast, likely with scores of people trapped inside, because officers on the bridge were trying to stabilize the vessel after it started to list amid confusion and chaos, a crew member said Thursday.

  •  
Secretary of State John Kerry is surrounded by security as he arrives in Geneva, Wednesday, April 16, 2014, where he is scheduled to participate in talks on the ongoing situation in Ukraine with representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the European Union.

    Ukraine: 3 killed after Black Sea base attack

    Three pro-Russian protesters were killed and 13 injured during an attempted overnight raid on a Ukrainian National Guard base in the Black Sea port of Mariupol, Ukraine's authorities said.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category