Picking lawyers next step in Friendswood suit
Friendswood City Council will discuss this week selecting a law firm to defend the city against a $1.2 million lawsuit over a failed parkland purchase.
Mayor David Smith said he hopes the city will decide on its legal representation during the 6 p.m. closed-session meeting Thursday, Jan. 14, at City Hall.
I want things to move forward as quickly as we possibly can," Smith said. I feel like we need to take care of this issue.
"At the end of the day, we still have a problem besides the suit. The problem is that we don't have enough places for kids to play."
Alvin landowner David Wight filed his $1.2 million lawsuit against the city in November in Galveston County. Last month, the city filed an answer denying the suit's allegations.
In 2008, Friendswood agreed to a $2.5 million contract to buy 60 acres that Wight owns in Alvin just south of Friendswood limits near FM 528 and Mandale Road. As part of the deal, Wight agreed to make more than $1 million in improvements to the property.
The city had planned to purchase the parkland with certificates of obligation, but a district judge ruled in July that it could not issue debt without voter approval under its city charter. The city of Alvin then rejected Friendswood's request to allow it to annex the land.
In September, the city notified Wight that it would not be buying the property. In the original contract, however, the city had agreed to pay $180,000 plus the cost of any improvements Wight made to the property if the deal fell apart.
The city has not talked to Wight or his legal representation, Smith said.
The tough part for us is that unlike an individual who can information and make decisions on their own, as a municipality we have processes that we have to follow by law when it comes to when and how we can meet and posting notices," he said. It's much more cumbersome so it takes a little bit longer to make those decisions and make things happen. We also have to consider what's best for the community at large when we make all these decisions. It's arduous. It takes up a lot of time and energy. What seems like what ought to be a simple thing for somebody to do, it takes on a whole different nature when you're dealing with the rules and guidelines associated with working together as a City Council. For some it may seem like we're dragging feet and taking too long, but that's not the case."
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