March 29 2018 10:45 AM

City Council wants to settle lawsuit brought by park neighbors



A controversy over a neighborhood park that has roiled an eastside neighborhood for nearly a year could be coming to an end. The Lansing City Council in a closed session Monday night cleared the path for the city to begin negotiations for a settlement with the Friends of Ormond Park, according to sources.

The organization sued last year in an attempt to block the construction of a road through the 8-acre park at a cost of $385,000 to create a new entry way to Groesbeck Golf Course. The suit maintained the drive threatened the unique physical features of the area, namely a section of an esker. Doing so, it argued, violated Michigan environmental law.

In October, Ingham County Circuit Judge James Jamo lifted the temporary restraining order after determining that allowing construction to proceed would not be an irreparable harm to the park. The city has largely finished the road project.

The Council had rejected the project, but former Mayor Virg Bernero successfully vetoed the override.

Peter Wood, a leader in Friends of Ormond Park, said Tuesday morning the group was “encouraged by the spirit of cooperation” that talk of a settlement brought to the table.

“But of course we have no response until we have heard the particulars of what that settlement would look like,” he wrote in a email. “We remain concerned about the impact of the road on the enjoyment of and use of the esker, on the values of neighborhood homes, and the loss of play space for children. We remain committed to the protection of democratic process and the preservation of park land.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Andy Schor said he has offered to return the play equipment to the park that was removed during road construction. Schor expressed his opposition to the road during his campaign last year. He said he will meet with neighbors to determine where best to restore the equipment.

But Schor said removing the road and restoring the park is not in the cards because of the expense, which he estimated at $500,000 or more.