Documents highlight payment concerns of Buckeye Broadband on Summit St project

Documents highlight payment concerns of Buckeye Broadband on Summit Street project
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 11:37 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - As Toledo’s Summit Street reconstruction project wraps-up, the 13abc I-Team is getting a better idea of when Buckeye Broadband said it would take issue with paying for part of it.

This coming from new documents that also detail how the city’s law department joined the process.

As 13abc has told you in the last few weeks, Toledo is now trying to recoup those relocation costs it originally picked up for Buckeye to the tune of about a million dollars.

It turns out that in 2019 the telecommunication company signaled it would take issue with paying.

You might still see some orange barrels but traffic is now moving in both directions on Summit Street after a major reconstruction project which included not only the road surface but water and sewer work below ground.

When crew start digging, typically utility companies with lines below pay to move them.

In 2019, as the city announced this project, Buckeye’s Utility Project Specialist Michael Sheahan told the city’s Division of Engineering Services: “the client or owner of this project may be responsible for all relocation costs incurred by Buckeye Broadband.”

Buckeye’s legal team then gets involved. A February conference call invite from Buckeye Broadband’s lawyer Keith Wilkowski went to Toledo law director Dale Emch and invites other city participants. We don’t know what was said in that call.

Both of those lawyers then communicated in April of 2020 with an email that has Wilkowski saying in part: “We have discussed with the city repeatedly this this is a significant project and their timeline is very aggressive and did not account adequately for the utility relocations.”

Buckeye even asks at one point if the other utilities want to make this a “joint build” but the other companies say no.

Eventually the city paid out of its pocket for the Buckeye relocation. It’s something many on Toledo City Council have asked questions about, even the FBI has asked questions and talked to city employees about it.

In July 2020 a member of the Engineering Services tried to sum-up all meetings with the utilities and buckeye. They include in-field meetings with Buckeye along with a conference call and meeting with the Buckeye contractor are all documented with one note added: “There were also those meetings with the law department and Buckeye which I don’t have a date on.”

Toledo’s law director said in a previous email that the city would pay because it was considered a beautification project. Although all the project plans repeatedly call it a reconstruction project and every other utility had to pay.

That lawsuit is still making its way through Lucas County Common Pleas court with a visiting judge.

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