A-1 Lawn Care and Jeff Gravatt was the low bidder for the mowing contract for city parks and the city cemetery let by the Houston Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently.
The bid was let in two separate contracts: one for mowing city ball fields and parks and one for the city cemetery.
Gravatt is the brother of City Parks and Recreation Director John Gravatt and Ward 2 Alderman Shenia K. Jones expressed some concerns about a possible conflict of interest in the awarding of the bid to A-1.
Gravatt did tell the board he would keep a close watch on whoever got the work and he didn’t feel the city could cut the grass for the price submitted by A-1 Lawn Care.
Houston City Board Attorney Elizabeth Ausbern said the decision to contract with anyone rested solely with the Board of Aldermen. She said since John Gravatt did not vote to hire his brother, it did not appear to be a conflict of interest.
The city has had problems with mowing contractors in the past who didn’t mow on a schedule expected by the city and who didn’t mow areas the city felt were in the contract. Two years ago the city had a mowing contractor who poisoned ditches rather than mow them, killing the grass and making them unsightly.
“All of that is part of the reason we required everyone who submitted a bid to do a walk-through with me,” said John Gravatt. “We just wanted to clear up with bidders exactly what was expected, what areas were to be mowed and how we wanted them mowed.”
City Clerk Bobby Sanderson said the city has sent requests to bids out to previous bidders in an effort to get a variety of bids and a competitive price.
The business hired by the city will probably mow parks and ball fields every week during the spring and summer. Once rains begin to taper off in the fall the mowing will probably be cut back to an as-needed basis.
The following bids were submitted to the City of Houston for each mowing of the 2013 mowing season:
• A-1 Mowing: $403 for ballfields and parks. $590 for the city cemetery.
• Max Lawn Care: $750 for ballfields and parks. $910 for the city cemetery.
• Grasshopper Lawn Maintenance: $630 for ballfields and parks. $810 for the city cemetery.
• D.J. Lawn Care: $11,000 per week.
It was also pointed out D.J. Lawn Care did not do the required walk-through with Gravatt.