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Scottdale might be sued over rescinding 3-year mowing contract

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By Rachel Basinger
Thursday, March 14, 2013, 7:12 p.m.

Scottdale Borough could face a lawsuit after taking action this week to rescind its three-year, grass-cutting contract with Stash-Scape of Dunbar.

Scottdale had awarded a three-year, grass-cutting contract to Stash-Scape last year. The company charged the borough $12,000 for last year; $12,250 for this year; and $13,000 for 2014.

Borough officials, including those with the parks and recreation committee, began expressing their dissatisfaction with Stash-Scape late last summer. Some of the reasons cited were not mowing all of the stipulated borough property; not mowing as often as borough officials thought should be mowed; and not cleaning up grass clippings.

The borough this week took advantage of the clause in the contract with Stash-Scape that says if for any reason Stash-Scape fails to fulfill its obligations in a timely manner, the borough has the right to terminate the contract by giving written notification five days before termination.

George Stash III, owner of Stash-Scape lawn care, said he has several concerns with the termination of the contract, including his claim that he never received written notification five days before the borough took action.

He said he first learned about the borough's dissatisfaction with Stash-Scape's performance after reading about it in September in the Daily Courier.

“I had no prior notification before I read it in the newspaper,” Stash said.

He said he immediately called the borough and asked Manager Angelo Pallone about the issue.

He was told at that time that all of the highlighted areas on the map that were included with the bid package were expected to be cut and that Stash had failed to cut the grass along the roadway across from the Sunoco coming into Scottdale from the Wal-Mart side of town.

“While an area above that location was highlighted, that specific area was not highlighted on the map,” Stash said, adding that Pallone informed him that borough officials didn't believe the grass was cut in a timely manner.

“The contract states that once it reaches a height of 4 inches, it needs to be cut to 2 inches,” Stash said. “Four inches is very high, and no one lets their grass get that high.”

He said that grass doesn't grow from 2 inches to 4 inches in one week, so he based his bid on what the contract stated and not on weekly mowing.

“In the contract, the basis of the frequency of the grass-cutting was based on the height of the grass, and I never let it get taller than 4 inches,” Stash said.

As far as not cleaning up the grass clippings, “the contract stated that the clippings are to be removed if the grass being cut has reached a height of higher than 4 inches, but I never let it get that high, so I didn't have to clean up the clippings,” Stash claimed.

“The point is, the bids would have been three times what they were if it was based on a weekly cutting, but the borough came up with these specifications. And if they requested any work to be done outside of what the contract specifications stated, they would have to be billed extra,” he said.

Stash claims the borough is in violation in several ways for terminating his contract.

“First of all, they never even notified me that they were dissatisfied before it hit the newspaper, and second of all, they could have withheld payment,” Stash said.

“The contract states that once the work is complete, I am to submit an invoice, and once the borough manager has confirmed that the work was performed in a satisfactory manner, payment would be released,” Stash said. “All of my submitted payments were paid.”

Stash also claimed the borough could have contacted the bonding company that held his bond and filed a complaint, but that was not done.

“They are in violation of several terms of their contract, and it's a shame for their residents because they're the ones that will lose out,” said Stash, who is debating whether to file a lawsuit. “They've now put out to the public that my company — that has had a good reputation for 14 years — is not a responsible company.”

During calls made to board President Andy Pinskey and Pallone, both stated they couldn't comment because it is a litigation issue.

Council agreed Monday night to award a two-year, grass-cutting contract to Dust Bunnies Maintenance of Scottdale, with a low bid of $11,400 this year and $11,400 for 2014.

Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.

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