Friendswood mulls lawyers for parkland suit
Friendswood City Council plans to consider selecting a law firm tonight to defend the city against a $1.2 million lawsuit over a failed parkland purchase.
City Council will discuss the matter at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, at City Hall in closed session before reconvening in to open session at 7 p.m. for its regular meeting.
The agenda includes an item to hire outside legal counsel to represent the city in the lawsuit.
I get the sense from the meetings that we've had and from talking to some of the council members that everybody's ready to go get it done and move forward with it," Mayor David Smith said.
Smith said he is unsure which firm might be selected, but said City Council has discussed as many as six law firms, which he declined to disclose. Of those, City Manager Roger Roecker will recommend a firm to City Council, he said.
We asked him to do the homework and then bring it to us collectively, Smith said.
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 city 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.
Smith said he is eager for the law firm that City Council hires to get to work on the lawsuit.
We want someone that will take a look at it and bring us advice and strategy about what they think the best path for us to take is," he said. We've got seven different people on City Council with seven different frames of references and different opinions about what we should do and what the right thing to do is. It's not always easy to get that collective thought. We've got to come together cohesively. That's what we're hoping that a law firm will do for us. They'll look at everything and then come back objectively and say look we think this is where you should go."
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