Spurned architect takes Beaver Local to court

LISBON – A lawsuit filed this week by a Canfield architectural firm claims the Beaver Local School District and the Board of Education violated Ohio law by hiring another architectural firm to design the current new building project.

Team 8e Architecture LLC is claiming when the school advertised for an architect or engineering firm to submit qualifications by May 18, 2012, their firm was ranked the most qualified candidate. However, the school district did not offer to negotiate a contract with Team 8e.

Instead the lawsuit claims the Beaver Local schools received a proposal from Olsavsky-Jaminet-Fanning-Howey Associated Architects, which also included qualifications. The proposal was dated May 18, 2012. That statement of qualifications included a project team of Everett Musser, Steven Dzuranin, John Gladden, Ian Hadden, Michael Lentz and Matthew Sudhoff.

On June 29, 2012, the board reportedly voted to award the contract to Olsavsky-Jaminet-Fanning-Howey provided the firm was approved by the Ohio Schools Facility Commission. However, before the contract was awarded, the lawsuit claims the individuals on the project team were removed from the project by the OSFC or by the board. The lawsuit claims the criteria used to evaluate the project by the defendants was no longer valid and the information used to award the contract was erroneous.

The lawsuit asks for the court to either step in and force the school district to hire Team 8e, require the board to void the contract and seek qualifications again or pay Team 8e more than $250,000 in damages.

The matter of the lawsuit did come up at a Beaver school board meeting in March, but at the time Superintendent Kent Polen chose not to comment. According to coverage of that meeting, Team 8e president Thomas A. Madej claims his firm created initial design renderings of the proposed buildings, which were used by the district to help get the bond levy passed. Madej claims his firm was not paid for work done for the school district over the past five years.

Madej also claims he was twice assured his firm would receive the contract after the levy passed, but it did not come to fruition. A motion to formally name Team 8e the architect firm for the project reportedly appeared on the agenda of a Feb. 13, 2012 meeting, but was tabled, never to resurface.

The entire project is estimated at $52.2 million of which $32.4 million is being paid for by the OSFC, a co-defendant in the civil lawsuit.

In an email Tuesday afternoon, Madej stated counsel for Team 8e has made several attempts to discuss the matters with attorneys representing the school district over the past nine months without success. “On all occasions, the district (through counsel) has completely ignored our communications,” Madej wrote. “Therefore, no progress has been made and we have been given no other option but to file both complaints.”

Attempts to reach Polen for comment were unsuccessful.

Staff writer Richard Sberna contributed to this report.