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Sources: City of Toledo hires outside lawyer to look into Summit Street probe

Published: May. 17, 2021 at 6:46 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The City of Toledo is getting its own set of eyes to review the Summit Street reconstruction project that the I-Team was first to tell you was under FBI scrutiny.

The I-Team has now learned the city has hired a private law firm to ask questions as well according to two sources.

We’re also told that the FBI is still actively investigating the reconstruction project which is supposed to be done by the time the Solheim Cup golf tournament begins on Labor Day weekend.

Now documents obtained by 13abc start to paint a picture of what is under scrutiny.

When you undertake a large reconstruction project on an older piece of downtown roadway like Summit Street anything can be found when you start digging. One thing crews expected to find were utilities gas, electric, and phone for example.

Documents obtained by the 13abc I-Team seem to question the relocation of the Buckeye Broadband lines running east and westbound on Summit Street.

In a July 17th 2020 email, Toledo’s Auditor asks city Law Director Dale Emch about Summit Street and an approximately $705,000 contract that was in addition to the millions already planned for the project.

In May of that year council approved $3 million more putting the bill over $10 million total.

The law director responded saying he made the legal decision that the city should bear the utility relocation cost for what Emch calls an aesthetic improvement to Summit. Emch goes on to say “This project was not undertaken out of urgent necessity for utility, transportation or traffic reasons but in large measure to upgrade the appearance of downtown in advance of the 2021 Solheim Cup.”

A purchase requisition from May 2020 says nothing about aesthetics, calling this project a reconstruction and waterline replacement while removing and replacing the pavement, curb and gutter and the drive approaches and minor drainage improvements

In the contract change order from June of 2020 it mentions the Buckeye Broadband facilities conflict and suggest having a subcontractor relocate the Buckeye facilities.

What will that cost the city? One portion of the work was listed at $617,000.

City code says owners of facilities located in the public right of way shall at their own expense relocate if there is a need to repair or improve that roadway. Code also says utilities do not need to relocate for aesthetic improvement.

But sources tell 13abc that of all the utility relocations for this project the city only paid for the Buckeye relocation.

So that brings us back to exactly what the FBI is looking into and exactly what the city’s outside lawyers are looking into. That we’re not totally being told.

A city spokesman did not answer our questions about the outside lawyers on Monday. He has told 13abc in the past that while they are proud of the work happening there if there are any questions, we will of course cooperate fully with the appropriate authorities.

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