RIDGELAND — City officials and a contractor settled a small disagreement over landscape maintenance of an important city entrance before awarding them a new contract Tuesday evening.

Aldermen approved an $89,995 contract to U.S. Lawns to maintain the landscape at I-55, Old Agency Road Road and the Highland Colony Parkway including the round-a-bout. The company was the low bidder and the contract was passed 5-0. Ward 2 Alderman Chuck Gautier and Ward 4 Alderman Brian Ramsey were absent. 

Services include turf care, edging and trimming, shrub and ground cover care, annual plantings, irrigation, fire ant control, debris removal, care of was ways and paved areas, and general policing and cleaning.

Public Works Director Mike McCollum said that U.S. Lawns submitted the lowest bid, beating out Smith’s Lawn and Landscape by $5. The highest bid they received was from Rotolo Consultants, Inc. for $109,705 and the lowest bid came from Worthern Bros Coastal Lawn Care Services at $18,036, but they were thrown out because they did not have the proper licenses. BnL construction, LLC submitted a bid of $93,540.

The item was initially slated for the consent agenda, but Alderman-at-Large D.I. Smith asked that it be removed so that a discussion could be had about the area of the awarded contract, specifically the Jackson Street exit.

Smith noted that U.S. Lawns currently held the contract at the location, a notable entrance to the city from the I-55. Smith insisted the exit was in rough shape, specifically the left-hand side going north into the city, though he thought the right-hand side was not without its problems.

“This is a highly-discussed approach to the city and was once one of the best-kept entrances,” he said. “We spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on making it look good. I want to know that that money is being we spent.”

Ward 3 Alderman Kevin Holder agreed that the area did not look good and he had received complaints.

David Pursell of U.S. Lawns presented pictures of the area saying recent road projects, largely by MDOT, had torn up and killed the grass, altered previously carved out irrigation channels and altered the slope of the hill which caused erosion problems that were not easily addressed.

McCollum said that Pursell and his company came well-recommended and had already worked with the city for some time. He said that in “discussions” with Pursell they had developed a plan to address the issues. He said specifically they plan to plant Bermuda grass which will take some time.

U.S. Lawns’ current contract ends on June 5. They will start their new two-year contract the following day.