Mansfield News

May 12, 2014

Homeowners, city nearing resolution on park dispute

Settlement pending, says homeowners’ attorney.

Legal squabbles over a bridge in the new Oliver Nature Park that neighboring residents want the city to close are nearing a resolution, parties in the dispute said Friday.

The city and the residents who sued to block the opening of the bridge just days before the park opened in January have agreed to put aside the litigation so that the plaintiffs, who now are also suing their homeowners association, can work out their differences with the HOA board of directors.

“We have a pending settlement,” plaintiffs’ attorney Shawn Brotherton said but added, “It’s a process.”

City Attorney Allen Taylor said that once those parties agree, city officials would present the proposed trilateral settlement to the City Council as soon as possible.

The initial injunction was sought by the owners of the eight properties that front the south side of a small lake just south of the city park. They alleged that the new bridge would funnel park patrons onto a 13-acre greenbelt of trails and the lake, increasing their liability risk and diminishing their property values. They contend those fears have already come true.

The lake is owned by the Estates of Creekwood, a gated community within the Arbors of Creekwood. But agreement ends there; the city claims it owns the greenbelt between the lake and park, calling it crucial to extending the Walnut Creek Linear Park eastward to the city limits and Joe Pool Lake.

Judge Dana Womack of the 348th state District Court rejected the injunction request and, when the residents refiled for the injunction, ordered the parties into mediation.

The plaintiffs have since then amended their lawsuit against the city to include their homeowners association in the litigation, contending its board had a duty to fight for the greenbelt property rather than wait for the lake-front property owners to sue the city.

The two parties have met several times to discuss tentative proposals. The attorneys declined to give details of the proposals..

Allison Arseneau, one of the 13 plaintiffs who sued for an injunction, said they and the homeowners association are waiting on information about insurance coverage options and costs. She called that a key factor in the discussions and said the information could arrive this week.

Last year, the city offered an easement along the north shoreline of the lake so the neighborhood could build a fence to keep park patrons away. At the time, the plaintiffs said that wouldn’t suffice.

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