Photo: City Manager, Mike Pogge-Weaver, and Carroll Public Library Director, Rachel Van Erdewyk
Opposition to the current plans for the Carroll Public Library struck a blow on Wednesday. City Manager, Mike Pogge-Weaver, and members of the Carroll City Council learned early yesterday morning there had been a petition filed in Iowa District Court for Carroll County, naming them as defendants in a lawsuit for an injunction against the project. One of these defendants was notified of the action as they arrived in Danville for the monthly meeting of the Enhance Iowa Board and the Community Attractions and Tourism grant committee for their final consideration on the award of nearly $500,000 for completion of the project. Richard Collison and his attorney, John W. Blyth with Nyemaster/Goode PC, informed the board of their intentions on Tuesday. Blyth says promises were made prior to the referendum that they claim are not being kept.
He says they are not contesting the validity of the referendum vote, which passed with nearly 62 percent approval. The main point for him and his client is to hold them to the promises they made, particularly that no other public money would be spent on the project. Collison and Blyth contend the grant money from the state constitutes public dollars. Collison explains the end goal of this action.
The letter accompanying the filing documents of the lawsuit says they believe the project will have a shortfall of more than $1.53 million. Blyth also says the city has reduced their contingency funding by nearly half to keep the project at the estimated $6.8 million. The city, council and Pogge-Weaver, have been listed as parties in four different counts, negligent misrepresentation and non-disclosure, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent non-disclosure and breach of fiduciary duty. Blyth adds that they are also asking that money pledged be delivered before bonding is sought.
Collison asserts that they would appreciate nothing more than the opportunity to explain different options on how to do it and do it right, in their eyes. Kristen Hanks-Bents, legal counsel for the Iowa Economic Development Authority, says she is not aware that litigation of this type has ever been brought before them. And board member, Lisa Hein, echoed the sentiments of the entire panel when she said she was disappointed with what has transpired.
Another board member, Emily Damman, explained that they cannot make the award with pending litigation, but that she wants to find a way to work through it. She does not believe one lawsuit should hold an entire project hostage. Pogge-Weaver was stunned by the filing of this petition and says he really cannot comment on pending litigation. However, he does say that the public’s vote last August, approving the plans for this project, is not in question. We will bring you more response on this lawsuit in upcoming broadcasts and copies of the filing documents as well as audio from the Enhance Iowa meeting can be found below.
Court Filing: Click two times on the document page to bring to full size version–
Enhance Iowa Board Meeting Audio: