Judge dismisses most of Downtown East development lawsuit

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December 13, 2013
By: Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

Four out of the five claims made in a last-second lawsuit against Ryan Construction's Downtown East development were dismissed by a Hennepin County judge today.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday by former City Council President Paul Ostrow and former mayoral candidates Dan Cohen and Stephanie Woodruff, was argued in court in a 90-minute hearing yesterday morning.

The only claim that remains centers around City Council's authority to create and operate public parks. The plaintiffs argued that the City Charter grants that authority exclusively to the Park Board. Early plans for the two-block park in the Downtown East development call for the park to be owned by the city, not the Park Board. Assistant Superintendent Bruce Chamberlin is the sole Park Board representative on the mayor's 24-person park committee dedicated to designing and fundraising for the park.

Judge Mel Dickstein wrote today that neither the plaintiff nor the defendent have had enough time to make a complete argument regarding this issue. Dickstein also joined the Park Board to the lawsuit.

"The Court also does not have the benefit of the Park Board’s views on the nature and extent of its powers in relation to the City’s. The Court has determined that in order to adequately address this issue, the Park Board is a necessary and indispensable party to this action," wrote Dickstein.

A hearing is set for Dec. 18 at 1:30 p.m. to decide the issue, which will probably be the last in a long line of obstacles the development has faced. City Council gave the development its final approval earlier today.

Park Board legal consul Brian Rice did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment for this story.