The City of Piedmont released details Tuesday afternoon of a settlement with the Piedmont Recreational Facilities (PRFO) over costs related to the controversial Blair Park sports field project.
The settlement was announced by Mayor John Chiang Monday evening, Sept. 16, at the start of the Piedmont City Council meeting.
The agreement specifies that the city will retain "the total amount of the combined PRFO deposit" to offset costs related to the project.
The PRFO initially deposited $125,000 in a legal indemnity fund and an additional $118,000 in a fund designed to pay legal and consultant fees incurred by the city in connection with the project.
Of that $243,000 total, only $95,000 remains. That leaves the city absorbing $113,533 in costs for legal and consultant fees, not including city staff time and some costs incurred after the Blair Park project was formally dropped.
The settlement agreement specifies that "PRFO shall make no further payments to City for eligible Costs under the Reimbursement Agreement."
A prologue to the agreement says that the city and PRFO "recognize the mutual benefit of avoiding the significant time, expense and risk involved in litigation of this matter ... further expenditures of either public or private funds to pursue this dispute serves no purpose."
The settlement also states that "PRFO remains dedicated to improving recreational facilities for Piedmont's youth. To that end, the PRFO board has set a goal of identifying worthy recreational projects in Piedmont and then raising $125,000 over the next 5 years for their development."
The $6 million-plus Blair Park plan would have built two playing fields, chiefly for soccer, and added associated facilities at the park on Moraga Avenue, privately financed through the PRFO.
The proposal divided the city, with opponents citing, among other things, potential traffic problems on Moraga Avenue and a desire to keep Blair Park in a relatively natural state. The City of Oakland and the nonprofit Friends of Moraga Canyon both threatened legal action over perceived problems with the project's Environmental Impact Report.
The city council formally abandoned the project on May 7, 2012, a move requested by the PRFO because of rising costs.
The text of the joint city-PRFO press release on the settlement follows:
The City of Piedmont and the Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO) issue the following joint statement that they have settled claims over costs relating to Blair Park.
In August 2011, PRFO entered a Reimbursement Agreement with the City to reimburse costs related to consultant and legal work done to review PRFO’s proposed project to build a multi-use field for Piedmont youth at Blair Park in Moraga Canyon.
The City contended that PRFO should have reimbursed all the City’s third party costs.
PRFO contended that the City was to inform PRFO when the City’s spending exceeded the initial deposit but did not do so until charges were almost threefold that amount.
The City and PRFO have agreed to settle their dispute regarding the interpretation of the Reimbursement Agreement.
In the settlement agreement, PRFO has agreed to let the City retain the $95,000 balance in a separate $125,000 Indemnification Guarantee fund, after a $30,000 settlement negotiated by PRFO attorneys in defending the City in the lawsuit filed by Friends of Moraga Canyon challenging the proposed project.
The $95,000, coupled with the initial deposit of $118,000, brings the total to $213,000 paid by PRFO towards the City’s stated total incurred costs of $326,533, leaving a balance of $113,533 to be absorbed by the City.
While the settlement has not given any party all of what it wanted, the City and PRFO acknowledge that each party has expended substantial energy and sums of money in an effort to create a multi-use field for Piedmont youth.
The parties have also concluded that further expenditures of either public or private funds to pursue the dispute serves no purpose and that it is in their mutual interests to resolve their dispute without resort to litigation.
PRFO remains dedicated to improving recreational facilities for Piedmont’s youth. To that end, the PRFO board has set a goal of identifying worthy recreational projects in Piedmont and then raising $125,000 over the next 5 years for their development.
PRFO looks forward to continuing its mission and expanding its role in the Piedmont community.
The community has benefited greatly from public-private partnerships and the City remains committed to developing these partnerships in the future.