Mission City Council awarded the Lions Park Improvements Project to G&G Contractors — a company with some history of requesting additional days to work on projects.
The mayor and council discussed and voted on the agenda item in two separate meetings. At the first meeting, the council unanimously approved the contractor. But at the second, they passed the item in a 4-1 vote.
After months of soliciting and re-soliciting for construction, city staff met with the top three firms — Davila Construction, Gerlach Builders and G&G Contractors, also known as RG Enterprises. An evaluation committee composed of city staff ranked the firms based on technical information and cost, including references. And although the committee rated Davila and Gerlach’s proposals higher for technical information results, G&G’s proposal had a lower cost. Gerlach’s proposal came in at $5.47 million, Davila’s at $5.44 million and G&G’s at $5.04 million.
At the April 24 meeting, Councilmember Jessica Ortega expressed concern over the contract price and possible change orders, which the council discussed in executive session. She reiterated her concerns for the public in open session.
“In keeping with transparency: I would like, whichever company that we choose tonight, that we work on making sure that the amount that they gave [us] stays at that amount and not many change orders,” Ortega said. “Because what I’ve seen is that they give us an amount and then they request change orders and that makes them no longer the lowest bid.”
Ultimately, staff recommended G&G for the project, and the council approved the firm in a 5-0 vote.
But following the April 24 vote, city staff contacted additional municipalities, entities and contractors for feedback on G&G’s work history. The staff did not receive negative references for G&G before or after the April 24 meeting. But because they received additional information, city council voted to reconsider the item, hear the new information and vote again at a special meeting on May 1. Councilmembers Abiel Flores and Beto Vela voted against the reconsideration.
Although Purchasing Director Peter Geddes explained that all the references rated G&G’s work history between 3 and 5 on a 1-5 system, Ortega once again communicated concern for future change orders. She referenced an ongoing project between La Joya ISD and G&G, where the school board did not approve change orders for additional days and a cost increase.
“It’s not a secret I work for La Joya ISD. And there was a meeting last week in reference to this contractor and they were not approved to continue work. And so for me that’s a huge red flag,” the councilwoman said. “The La Joya ISD school board is very concerned with all of their change orders that they do. And so that is something, when this item was up last week, that was the first thing I said at the very beginning.”
She continued with her reasoning.
“I did speak to two of the companies that [G&G] does work with,” Ortega said, “and I really do not feel confident, on such a huge beautiful project that Mission’s going to have, that [G&G] has the expertise or the backing for this type of project.”
But La Joya ISD is not the first school district in the area to question the contractor’s excessive requests for change orders.
Mission CISD hired G&G to repair Tom Landry Hall of Fame Stadium, but they ran into several issues. At one point, the project stalled, partly because the engineers, G&G and Mission CISD administration had to comb through several change order requests. Later, the engineer stated he could not justify a change order request for additional days. Throughout the stadium project, G&G continued to argue their case for more time.
However, Assistant City Manager JP Terrazas said that staff contacted La Joya ISD as a reference; their feedback for G&G was positive on two projects — the Juarez-Lincoln Drainage Project and Benavides Roofing Project. Ortega questioned if the person from La Joya ISD who provided feedback was the right person to ask.
“And also, if I may, this contractor is doing one of our drainage projects, they’re working on Stewart right now,” Terrazas said. “And as of now, we haven’t received any change orders or any increase of monies. We haven’t had any problems with any of it. And they’re about 50% done with the project.”
The assistant city manager also said he, Geddes and City Manager Randy Perez are still trying to negotiate the final price.
Before the vote on May 1, Mission City Council included language in the motion that limits G&G from abusing requests for additional days that would delay the project unless the actions are beyond reasonable control. Once again, the council awarded G&G Contractors the Lions Park Improvements Project in a 4-1 vote, with Ortega dissenting.
Lions Park will eventually become an all-inclusive park designed to include the needs of people with disabilities. The city broke up the project into three phases. Phase one — which G&G will work on — consists of an all-inclusive play area, splash pad, walking trail, pavilions, Bankshot basketball court, new parking and architectural entrances. Phase two is a community center, and for phase three, the plans include demolishing the homes located north of Francisco Avenue and Kika De La Garza Loop for park expansion.