A single question by a member of Portsmouth City Council led to a statement about Columbia Gas of Ohio wanting to cut up streets the city has recently paved. On the city manager’s report was a notation that Portsmouth City Manager Derek K. Allen had met with Shane Cartmill of Columbia Gas of Ohio regarding cutting of newly paved streets, prompting Third Ward Councilman Kevin E. Johnson to say – “Seems like every time we pave a street it’s cut, how did the meeting go?”
“I’d like to say it went better than it did,” Allen said. “I expressed my displeasure.”
Allen said there is a meeting with Columbia Gas of Ohio officials every year in which the company tells him where they are going to be working. Allen then chooses not to pave those particular streets. He said – “Their excuse is that they got more money now that some other community didn’t use and they’re going to do more work and that they’re being mandated by the federal government to invest this money.”
Allen said he thought he had a clear picture of the company’s plan after meeting with them.
“What they told us this year was around Mound Park,” Allen said. “We did not pave streets around Mound Park. Then I got a request out of the blue to cut Elmwood Drive around 25th and Grandview, and I said we just paved that, you never brought this up and they said , ‘We got some extra money,’ and I said, ‘Well you’re not cutting our street after we pave it.’”
Allen told council he had heard rumors that Columbia Gas was cutting Walnut Street, which had been paved one week before.
“I went out there – I didn’t see it cut,” Allen said. “But apparently they cut Bonser.”
Allen said he was emphatic with the company.
“I told them you’re not cutting our streets after we pave them,” Allen said. “I’d like to say we came to a meeting of the minds but I don’t believe we did.”
Allen said he told company officials they were welcome to cut Elmwood Drive, but they were going to have it pave it curb to curb for the entire block. He said he was not going to settle for patches.
“I expressed my displeasure that we don’t do a lot of paving, so you had basically six streets paved and you (Columbia Gas of Ohio) want to cut three of the six. That’s unacceptable,” Allen said. “I don’t know what else to do. I’m sick that they had to go and cut Bonser.”
Allen said, as a result of the recent meeting, he now has an understanding of where they will be cutting next year, so the city will not be paving those streets. He said, when Columbia Gas cuts streets recently paved by the city, it makes the city look bad, appearing not to have planned.
“I just don’t understand it,” Allen said.
Cartmill responded to an email concerning a response from Columbia Gas of Ohio saying he was in the process of looking into the situation.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.