Mediacom Communications released a statement Tuesday criticizing the West Des Moines City Council after the council approved starting construction on a broadband conduit network at the center of a lawsuit. 

In the suit, 
filed against the city in early December, Mediacom claims the city is improperly financing a nearly $50 million citywide conduit network, offering a significant competitive edge to Google Fiber. Mediacom is the only provider involved in filing the lawsuit, which requests that West Des Moines suspend work related to the conduit network, and that the project be brought to a vote for West Des Moines residents. 

At Monday’s meeting, the West Des Moines City Council approved a resolution ordering construction on two digital enterprise network segments. The measure was approved by all council members with the exception of Matt McKinney, who abstained from voting. McKinney is a registered lobbyist for Google Inc. and its affiliates in the state of Iowa. The vote occurred before the council held a closed-door session executive session regarding pending litigation. 

(Related: Mediacom sues West Des Moines, requesting stop of conduit network with Google Fiber)

In a statement released to media, Mediacom wrote: 

“ 'We are disappointed the West Des Moines City Council failed to do what is right for local taxpayers and instead voted to move forward by ordering construction on a city-wide conduit network for the exclusive use of one internet service provider,' said Thomas Larsen, Mediacom Senior Vice President, Government and Public Relations. “This is especially true in light of the growing list of lawsuits alleging anti-competitive and exclusionary behavior by the City’s chosen business partner, Google. The residents and businesses of West Des Moines deserve a city council that conducts itself in a competitively neutral and non-discriminatory manner. Last night’s rushed vote after a two-hour closed door executive session shows the City Council is recklessly making decisions that will cost their taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.' ”

In a letter submitted to city attorneys by attorney Martin Demoret on Dec. 21, Mediacom alleged the city of West Des Moines demonstrates a pattern of reliance on urban renewal bonds “to avoid compliance with the requirement for voter approval of bond issuances.” The letter cited funding of the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex sports complex under construction at 6500 Grand Ave.

“Accordingly, a decision for Mediacom on this point will not only affect the Conduit Network, but also call into question the validity of bonds issued for the Sports Complex,” Demoret wrote.  

The $42 million recreation complex is a partnership by the city of West Des Moines and Des Moines University first announced in November 2019. In May, the City Council and DMU approved a 10-year agreement that DMU would pay more than $1.2 million to lease space at the RecPlex for physical therapy services. The project will be paid for by a combination of public and private funding, the Business Record reported
 at that time.

In an email to the Business Record, city representative Lucinda Stephenson said "Mediacom's pending litigation has nothing to do with the MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex."

The City Council has "taken action necessary to complete the RecPlex" and construction on the facility is nearly finished, she added.

Updated Dec. 23 3:35 p.m. with a statement from the city of West Des Moines.