A contract for a private company to mow grass on rights-of-way along county-maintained roads and a pair of items related to the Victor Lord Park expansion project were among the topics discussed by the Barrow County Board of Commissioners during its monthly work session Tuesday, Sept. 24.

The board agreed to place each of the items on the consent agenda at its Oct. 8 voting session.

The on-call mowing contract is with NGL, of Winder, and is for $79,736 per mowing cycle. NGL was the low bidder out of three submissions. While the county typically has four mowing cycles per fiscal year, the public works department is requesting only two mowing cycles in Fiscal Year 2020 since the county is already nearly three months into the fiscal year, county manager Mike Renshaw said.

The county maintains 454 miles of county road, but the public works department only mows 261.61 miles of county roads, according to figures provided by public works director Autron Hayes.

Starting with this fiscal year, the county opted to seek out a private mowing company so it could focus more of its public works manpower on roadway maintenance and other road issues.

“We need to be creative and innovative,” Renshaw said, noting that commissioners had approved three additional positions in the roads department for FY2020. “In my opinion, they should be out there maintaining our roads. Our staff resources are better used that way.”

Hayes and Renshaw told the board one of the other prospective bidders raised an issue late Friday, Sept. 20, that NGL had a previous contract terminated with Gwinnett County. Hayes said officials looked into the matter and that the parks and recreation contract was terminated early because NGL had realized it had underestimated the scope of the work. The company had completed two other transportation-related contracts with the county with satisfactory results, Hayes said.

The county’s public works department also reached out to Gwinnett County and other clients and received positive feedback, Hayes said, adding that county officials are confident NGL has the equipment and staff to service the contract with Barrow.

VICTOR LORD PARK ITEMS

Commissioners also heard recommendations Tuesday for a field and security lighting system agreement at Victor Lord Park once it is expanded as well as upgrades to the state-owned Firetower Road to the south so it can be used as a secondary entrance for major events.

The voter-approved expansion project will include three additional multipurpose athletic fields and a tennis complex to the southeast of the existing facilities at Victor Lord Park. The expansion is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2020.

Renshaw is recommending the board approve an agreement with Musco Lighting to purchase the lighting for $147,000. The price does not include maintenance or electricity costs. Renshaw said the LED lighting would be more energy-efficient and require less maintenance. Musco had also offered a tiered annual payment schedule with options for five, seven and 10 years.

Georgia Power, the only other company to respond to a request for proposals, did not present a purchase option as requested. The company offered the county two lease options — a two-year agreement with no down payment and $2,660 per month or a $50,000 down payment and $1,950 per month for a minimum of two years. After two years, the contract would go month-to-month with no pricing change and no determination date. The agreement would include Georgia Power’s maintenance policy and all electricity costs.

County staff and Ascension Program Management, the county’s consultant on the park expansion, said Georgia Power’s ongoing costs would be “excessive.”

The county would purchase the lighting equipment from Musco using project contingency funds.

The conversion of Firetower Road to an access road is being sought by the county to address any potential safety issues that having only one entrance might cause in the event of major tournaments and other large events. Renshaw is recommending the board approve the use of $167,976 in surplus 2018 non-LMIG road project funds to design and construct the road. The upgrades would include the installation of curbs and gutters along a 600-to-800-foot stretch of the road, Hayes said.

The county will also create a memorandum of understanding with the State Properties Commission and Department of Natural Resources for use of the road. The access road would not be open to the public at all times, and it would be up to the county leisure services department to decide when it should be utilized, Hayes said.

Hayes said the county will examine whether it’s more cost-effective and efficient to do the upgrades in-house or contract with someone to perform the work.

County officials said they want the work to be completed this fall to line up with the general contractor’s construction schedule for the park.

“With the timing issue, it behooves us to have both options available,” Renshaw said.

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