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Published: Tuesday, 5/24/2005

Suit disputes award of city design contract

The owner of a Toledo engineering company claims in Lucas County Common Pleas Court that another firm had an unfair advantage for a city contract to design an $18 million project to convert methane gas to electricity.

James Opaczewski, the owner of Turbo Dynamics, filed a taxpayer's lawsuit yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against the city of Toledo.

He claims the city abused its discretion and wrongly awarded an engineering and design contract for the project to harness methane gas at the Hoffman Road landfill into electricity.

Council awarded the contract for the project in January to Cleveland-based Middough Consulting, which submitted the low bid of $1.8 million.

A bid submitted by Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green that would have used the engineering and design technology of Turbo Dynamics was $2.1 million.

However, Mr. Opaczewski said the Middough proposal substantially lacked requirements and specifications for the project as outlined in the city's request for proposals.

He claims Middough's proposal did not provide certain information that was requested by the city, including plans to use excess heat from the system for heating local buildings, the cost of employing a representative, a return on investment analysis, and projected annual saving and operating maintenance costs.

He is asking the court to stop the city from going through with the contract with Middough.

Judge Jack Zouhary scheduled a hearing on Friday for attorneys on both sides to present oral arguments on a request for a temporary restraining order. Poggemeyer, Middough, and four other firms submitted proposals for the project, which would pipe the naturally occurring gas from the landfill to the Bay View wastewater treatment plant. The gas would fuel gas turbines to produce electricity for the plant.

Mr. Opaczewski claimed his system for the methane gas conversion would save the city up to $4 million a year after the plant is paid off in nine years. The Toledo engineer had designed a generator that uses waste steam at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, saving the hospital $2 million a year on electrical costs.

John Madigan, an attorney for the city, received the lawsuit, but said he couldn't comment because he had not read it.



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