Westfield City Council decision could void open-door lawsuit

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Hamilton County Judge Paul Felix scheduled a March 11 bench trail date for the open-door lawsuit filed against Westfield’s proposed $25 million indoor school facility at Grand Park.

Mayor Andy Cook and the city have denied accusations and in response filed a motion to dismiss, which was heard Feb. 17 in Hamilton County Court.

“Our lawyer says we adhered to every letter of the law,” Cook said.

At the Feb. 17 hearing, Westfield City Attorney Brian Zaiger argued that mayoral candidate Jeff Harpe did not file the lawsuit, as required by state law, within 30 days of knowing about the alleged violation. Harpe and his attorney, Tim Stoesz, filed the lawsuit Dec. 10 but Zaiger argued that the suit should have been filed by Nov. 27 since the Westfield City Council approved funding for the facility on Oct. 27.

Felix declined to dismiss the case but gave Zaiger until the end of last week make other legal arguments.

The court’s decision may be voided as the city council is in the process of approving a new ordinance which is almost identical to the one being contested by Harpe. That ordinance, which had a public hearing on Feb. 9, is the lone item on the council’s Feb. 23 meeting agenda. While the council has the opportunity to vote on the funding again, if it does table the motion the next scheduled meeting is March 9 – two days before the bench trial on the open-door lawsuit.

On Feb. 13, the Westfield City Council posted answers online to all of the questions asked during the Feb. 9 public hearing on the city website.

“City Councilors feel it is their duty to answer any concerns residents may have about the lease agreement between Holladay Properties and the city as well as the sub-lease agreements with Indiana Sports Properties and Jonathan Byrd’s,” stated Erin Murphy, city spokeswoman. “There are several million dollars in economic development projects contingent on the indoor facility being built, which will turn Grand Park into a year round facility.”

Waiting in the balance of a decision are hundreds of jobs in Westfield. Officials said Indiana Sports Properties plans to hire 30 employees with an annual payroll of $695,000. Jonathan Byrd’s intends to create 100 jobs with an annual payroll of $1.6 million.

If the council approves the funding (which it previously did by a 6-1 vote) or the city wins its legal case in court, construction on the facility may begin immediately.

 

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