City has ‘healthy exchange’ with Army Corps, ODNR over annual Caesar Creek billings


By John Hamilton - jhamilton@wnewsj.com



Shidaker

Shidaker


WILMINGTON — The city is mulling its next steps after meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Safety/Service Director Brian Shidaker was among city staff that attended an information-gathering session Monday at Caesar Creek Lake between the Army Corps and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

This meeting was to discuss the Army Corps’ operation and maintenance costs being billed annually — totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars — to the City of Wilmington related to Wilmington’s primary water source, Caesar Creek Lake.

“There was a very healthy exchange of information and points of view that will enable each of the parties involved to evaluate their contractual obligations,” Shidaker told the News Journal.

The city’s next step will be determined after Shidaker meets with their attorneys.

This was the first face-to-face meeting current city staff has had with the Army Corps.

Shidaker was joined by Safety/Service Coordinator Andrea Tacoronte, Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Rick Schaffer, and the city’s retained attorneys, Mark Troutman and Shawn Judge of the Isaac Wiles law firm in Columbus.

Shidaker said nine people from ODNR were present including Assistant Director Fred Shimp, Chief of Legislative Services Brad Bales, and Chief Fiscal Officer Tom Johnston. From the Army Corps, Sharon Bond, Deputy Chief of Planning, Programs, and Project Management Division, was joined by 10 others.

A representative from the office of U.S. Rep Steve Stivers (R-OH 15th District) also attended.

Shidaker said over the coming days the city will be assessing the information learned, and they hope to continue to work with the Army Corp of Engineers and ODNR to find “a mutually beneficial resolution to the issues and concerns shared in the meeting.”

The bills from the Army Corps of Engineers to the city include hundreds of thousands of dollars toward expenses for maintaining the dam and lake as well as paying portions of paychecks to state staff and contractors routinely earning $50-100 per hour or more.

The payments in question also include many other itemized costs including $400 for toilet-paper holders, $300 for bird seed, and $660 for “brochure stands.”

“Bird seed was discussed, among other items,” said Shidaker.

The city entered into a 50-year contract with the State of Ohio to use Caesar Creek Lake water, remaining in effect until 2040.

Shidaker
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By John Hamilton

jhamilton@wnewsj.com

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574