Aug 26 2013

OPINION: FOMC Lawsuit Settlement Funds Go to Blair Park

–  Landscape plan to improve neglected park –  

Councilman Robert McBain made comments at the August 19th City Council meeting that were quoted in the POST (8/21/13) that I believe need to be addressed.  Friends of Moraga Canyon (FOMC) settled its lawsuit against the City of Piedmont by accepting $30,000 for the reimbursement of legal fees.  FOMC asked that $15,000 of the $30,000 settlement be deposited in a separate account with the City of Piedmont expressly for the purpose of retaining a landscape designer to create a plan to improve Blair Park.

$30,000 was transferred from the City’s Legal Indemnity Fund to pay this obligation.  Piedmont Recreation Facilities Organization (PRFO) established this fund as a vehicle to fulfill its written promise to cover any and all legal liabilities incurred by the City in connection with the Blair Park project. (To date, PRFO still owes the City approximately $220,000.)

FOMC raised and paid over $70,000 to cover its legal and other expenses.  The settlement directed $15,000 to FOMC’s attorneys to pay off the remaining balance still owed.  This left $15,000 in settlement funds that could have been used to repay some of its major supporters.  Instead, FOMC decided to have these funds placed in a City account expressly for the purpose of hiring a landscape designer to create a plan for the maintenance and improvement of Blair Park. Unlike all other well-cared for Piedmont parks, Blair Park has been ignored and neglected, especially during the four years of the sports field controversy, and a plan to enhance the park’s natural setting and amenities is sorely needed.

Al Peters, Former Piedmont Mayor

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

5 Responses to “OPINION: FOMC Lawsuit Settlement Funds Go to Blair Park”

  1. Wouldn’t it be a refreshing change if Councilman McBain could focus his public displays of indignation toward the organization that promised that the Park would be a gift to the City but ended up stiffing the City several months later for over $200,000. If his loyalty was directed to serving his constituents instead of misdirected to worrying about whether the playfield supporters should get credit for settlement payments, perhaps the City could make some progress toward collecting what is owed, but that is apparently not what the councilman is concerned about.

  2. Thanks, Al, for your explanation of the facts. I am interested to know what plans the Council has for pursuing its claim against PRFO.

  3. The POST has created and encouraged the divisive nature of the Blair Park Proposal by marginalizing the many residents who do not blindly support Recreation facilities. Some residents opposed to the Blair Park Proposal support appropriate recreational expansion accomplished through a transparent and inclusive process. The Blair Park process remains questionable with PRFO still owing in excess of $200,000 to the City with no explanation from City Hall as to why there has been no substantive collection action.

    After several years we still have no substantive answers concerning the Undergrounding Debacle or why public funds were used to repair Crest Road. We now appear poised to forgive the PRFO debt and, by Councilman McBain’s recent remarks, move on to Blair Park II.

  4. Councilman McBain seems to be claiming that the PRFO (not FOMC) is the true donor of the $15,000 that is supporting the Blair Park design project. This is a remarkable theory indeed, and we all (including Mr. McBain) should discuss it over brandy and cigars some evening.

    Meanwhile, let’s consider something more real, such as the $220,000 that the PRFO owes the City, reportedly the subject of long tough negotiations between the parties. And let’s ponder the following:

    As the PRFO and the City face off from opposite sides of the negotiating table, what exactly are the knotty issues being encountered that could possibly account for the glacial pace?

    Or might it be that the two parties are actually not on opposite sides of the table (?!). Perhaps, instead, they are sitting cozily at a corner of the table, heads together, running the clock.

  5. We all remember the supporters of the PRFO telling us all that it would not cost the city a dime.

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