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City of Toledo says Summit Street project might not be popular, but it is lawful

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 7:06 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The city of Toledo is now responding to the latest news the 13abc I-Team has uncovered about the FBI’s involvement and outside legal counsel pertaining to the Summit Street reconstruction project.

City officials are defending what’s happening in downtown Toledo, saying while it might be unpopular with some it is lawful and appropriate.

The city is admitting it has hired an outside lawyer over this project and believes that everything happening has been vetted through legal channels.

The Summit Street reconstruction project aims to “beautify an important section of downtown to help Toledo prepare for its largest international event in decades.”

That event is the Solheim Cup.

The 13abc I-Team was the first to tell you that the FBI is looking into the project and has been asking city personnel questions about it.

“The city of Toledo is aware that authorities have asked for information regarding the Summit St. beautification project. The city is happily providing this information,” City spokesman Ignazio Messina acknowledged this week.

The I-Team told you the city has hired outside lawyers to look into the project as well. Messina acknowledged that saying: “engaging with outside counsel is not uncommon. We’ve engaged with a local law firm that is helping fulfill a records request.” Messina went on to say: “the amount spent is less than $10,000.”

Which means that city council doesn’t need to approve it.

Documents obtained by the I-Team show one of the major issues with Summit Street is utility lines. The city has spent its own money to move the Buckeye Broadband lines costing the city well over $600,000.

Sources tell 13abc that every other utility has paid for its own lines to be moved.

City law director Dale Emch told the city auditor in a July email that in his legal opinion Summit Street was an aesthetic fix, therefore the city had to pay.

Messina went on to say to 13abc: “Difficult public policy decisions are made every day in city offices, but the fact that this decision may be unpopular among some people does not mean it was unlawful or inappropriate. In fact, this decision was made based on multiple considerations – and it was guided by legal interpretations of state and municipal law. The city of Toledo moved forward only after receiving legal guidance and direction.”

The statement says “beautification” but you don’t see “beautification” in some of the documents for this project.

In the purchase requisition from last May it calls this work: “Summit Street roadway reconstruction and waterline replacement”

In a memo about the bids to the Commissioner of Purchasing, it calls this the: “Summit Street roadway reconstruction and water main replacement.”

In the contract with Crestline Paving it calls this the: “Summit Street reconstruction and water main replacement.”

The City of Toledo is aware that authorities have asked for information regarding the Summit St. beautification project. The city is happily providing this information. Difficult public policy decisions are made every day in city offices, but the fact that this decision may be unpopular among some people does not mean it was unlawful or inappropriate. In fact, this decision was made based on multiple considerations – and it was guided by legal interpretations of state and municipal law. City officials made a public policy decision to beautify an important section of downtown to help Toledo prepare for its largest international event in decades. The City of Toledo moved forward only after receiving legal guidance and direction. The City of Toledo will have no further comment on the matter until it is resolved.

Toledo City spokesman Ignazio Messina