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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2007

Toledo Sports Arena-razing firm under fire from city

BY TOM TROY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The demolition contractor hired by Lucas County yesterday to tear down the Toledo Sports Arena is in hot water with the city of Toledo over his alleged effort to mislead the city about minority subcontracting.

Calvin Brown, the city's interim director of affirmative action, yesterday recommended that a $198,000 contract for demolition of 1515 Bancroft St. - set to be awarded to B&B Wrecking & Excavating Inc. of Cleveland - be canceled. Adia Boston, the commissioner of purchasing, said she agreed with the recommendation.

"It is our belief that B&B Wrecking has misrepresented itself and attempted to mislead the City of Toledo regarding its efforts to secure [minority business enterprise] participation for this project," Mr. Brown wrote in a memo obtained by The Blade.

B&B President Brian Baumann yesterday denied trying to mislead the city, saying he intended to use Wes Boykin Trucking Excavation to meet the city's 12.3 percent minority contracting goal, as asserted in his bid documents.

But Mr. Boykin, president of the minority contracting firm based at 1035 Wamba Ave., said he has had no agreement with Mr. Baumann. Mr. Boykin signed an affidavit June 8 saying he has been shown a subcontractor form "allegedly signed by Wes Boykin" and denied any knowledge of it.

"To my knowledge, I have not been contacted to be a subcontractor on this contract, and I did not authorize any documents pertaining to this contract," Mr. Boykin said in the affidavit connected with the Bancroft Street project.

The affidavit raises questions about who signed Mr. Boykin's name in the signature line of the subcontractor form. The signature appears to be written in a different hand than Mr. Boykin's signature as it appears on his affidavit.

Mr. Baumann denied doing so, but he didn't rule out the possibility that somebody at his company did.

"If our office did that, I don't know. We never would ever try and forge or doctor someone's signature at all," Mr. Baumann said.

He said he hadn't offered a contract to Mr. Boykin for the simple reason that the city hasn't given him a contract yet. He said he has subcontracted with Mr. Boykin before and was satisfied with his performance.

"I would gladly work with Wes," Mr. Baumann said, adding that he spoke with Mr. Boykin on the phone three times yesterday.

Of the recommendation to cancel his contract, Mr. Baumann said, "If it's canceled I would have problems with the city."

A memo in the Bancroft project file states that two contractors - neither one of them local - bid on the 1515 Bancroft job: B&B, at $198,000, and Homrich Inc. at $542,800. The project was recommended to be awarded to B&B based on its low bid. The same memo identifies Wes Boykin Trucking as a subcontractor.

The property at 1515 Bancroft is a former industrial site that was damaged in a fire.

In his memo, Mr. Brown, city affirmative action director, said that, as part of the office's new "quality control program," he checked with Mr. Boykin to determine if Mr. Boykin really did have an agreement to fulfill the minority contracting goal on the 1515 Bancroft project. He said his investigation yielded no such agreement.

Mr. Boykin, 70, owner of his own demolition and excavation firm since 1984, said he did not request to be a part of the B&B contract and does not want to be. He said he is in business for prime contracts, not subcontracts, which pay an hourly rate.

The Lucas County commissioners yesterday hired B&B to demolish the Toledo Sports Arena and seven downtown buildings to make way for the new multipurpose arena. The demolition and abatement contract is for $448,700.

B&B has said it would subcontract 15 percent of the project to Boykin Trucking.

Mr. Boykin said he was surprised to see himself named as the minority subcontractor in a story in The Blade yesterday.

"I don't know anything about it," Mr. Boykin said about the sports arena demolition project.

However, Mr. Baumann said he and Mr. Boykin sat together at a prebid conference in the old sports arena two weeks ago and discussed the demolition.

He said he has worked with Mr. Boykin in the past on city projects, including a 2004 concrete-crushing contract, and would like to work with him again.

Joe Zunk, superintendent of Lathrop Co., the Maumee firm designated to be the arena's project manager, said he believes Mr. Baumann and Mr. Boykin will try to negotiate a contract.

Mr. Zunk said 10 bids for the sports arena demolition were received from companies in Michigan, New York, and Ohio, including Sandusky and Archbold. The law requires the county to choose the best and lowest bid, county Administrator Michael Beazley said.

Blade Staff Writer Laren Weber contributed to this report.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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