On Wednesday, December 7, the Park Board voted to approve the negotiated settlement of a $1.8 million lawsuit filed against the Park Board by contractors who did work at the 201 Building at Ft. Snelling. The settlement requires the Park Board pay $900,000 to the plaintiffs. The lawsuit arose out of work performed but not paid for in a failed attempt to build a skatepark at Ft. Snelling.
The settlement was commented on by a number of writers to the Minneapolis Issues List:
Katie Simon-Dastych asks: “Where will the $900,000 come from?” (as posted on list)
Rick Kuhlman asks: “What in the heck are they going to do with the 201 building now? I drove by it this morning. It was all boarded up.” (list)
Ken Bradley answers: “Like all cases the government settles and the tax-payer pays the bill through higher taxes.” (list)
Park Board Commissioner Annie Young replies: “The Park Board has until Nov. 1, 2006 to settle this claim. In the meantime, we will be trying to sell the building or come up with the revenue from the building in one way or another that would get us this $900,000. By about next June we will be looking at all our options which as a last resort includes paying out of our self-insurance fund by the Nov. 1 deadline.” (list)
Shawne FitzGerald details the history of the $14.9 million and growing public expense at Ft. Snelling (list):
All of this expense could have been easily avoided by the commonly used instrument of a performance bond. Park Board attorney Brian Rice claims he never saw the contract between the Park Board and The Fort LLC. Why not? Does anyone write a multi-million dollar contract and 30-year lease without consulting a lawyer? Of course not. So why was the Park Board’s contract with The Fort LLC not reviewed by Brian Rice? Why was there no performance bond protecting the taxpayers from the private entity’s failure to perform?