3rd Street: Litigation Status Update
The legal dispute between Broomall’s Lake Country Club (BLCC) and Media Borough over the proposed design of the Third Street dam and roadway project took an intriguing turn last month when news of a proposed settlement received coverage by local media outlets.
Media Patch reported that BLCC had offered to drop its opposition to the Borough’s approved one-lane, one-way design for the roadway that will be built atop the reconstructed Broomall’s Lake dam in exchange for the Club being released from all future legal liability and financial responsibility for the dam. In September, BLCC had filed a legal petition in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas seeking to force Media Borough to construct two lanes for two-way automobile traffic. When attorneys for the parties met with Judge James F. Proud in November, the Judge requested that BLCC and the Borough make a good-faith effort to reach a common agreement on the disagreement. The offer from BLCC was reportedly made in December after the initial meeting with Judge Proud.
Although Media Borough Council President Brian Hall and Borough Solicitor Robert Scott refused to confirm or deny the report of a proposed settlement offer, citing instructions from Judge Proud to keep all litigation-related discussions confidential, a representative of BLCC confirmed that such a proposal had been made to the Borough. BLCC Board President Paul Cavanagh told the Delaware County Daily Times that the Club had informed the Borough that it was prepared to discuss accepting the one-lane, one-way design if Media was willing to release the Club from its obligations to maintain and repair the dam after construction. Cavanagh said that the Club never received a response from the Borough to its proposed settlement.
The solicitors from both BLCC and the Borough told reporters that another meeting had been conducted with Judge Proud in January at which the Judge was informed that there was no basis for a common agreement. Proud then ordered the parties to submit written briefs by February 15, 2013. According to Borough Solicitor Robert Scott, there will be a 10-day rebuttal period after briefs are submitted when either side can dispute the other’s argument. While it is impossible to predict the timing of Judge Proud’s response, it is unlikely that he will make a ruling before early March and possibly even later.
From the perspective of the Friends of Glen Providence Park, the willingness of BLCC to discuss the one-lane, one-way compromise is an encouraging indication that the Club could accept a solution that reduces the environmental damage to Glen Providence Park and balances automobile access with recreational use by hikers and bikers. However, our organization also recognizes that the offer BLCC made to Media Borough would fundamentally change the basis of the three-way legal agreement signed by BLCC, Media Borough, and Delaware County in 2011. That legal stipulation stated that Media Borough would be responsible for designing and constructing a replacement dam and roadway. The stipulation also stated that, after reconstruction, Delaware County and Broomall’s Lake Country Club would be jointly responsible for maintaining and operating the dam, while Media Borough would manage and maintain the roadway atop the dam.
The Club’s desire to avoid future legal liability and financial responsibility for a high hazard dam is understandable – as is the Borough’s determination to protect Media’s taxpayers from assuming those liabilities and financial obligations. Given that the Friends of Glen Providence Park originally advocated for removing the dam, restoring the Broomall’s Run stream, and then building a small-scale pedestrian-only greenway, our organization finds the prospect of dissolving the current legal stipulation and renegotiating all of the agreements could open up the possibility for better outcomes for the Park and park users. However, we doubt that either side is prepared for such a radical step. So, the next move in the saga of Broomall’s Lake dam and the Third Street roadway belongs to Judge James F. Proud.