Court rules in Cedar Lake's favor in Park Board dispute

2013-03-21T20:30:00Z 2013-03-21T23:37:03Z Court rules in Cedar Lake's favor in Park Board disputeMary Wilds Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 21, 2013 8:30 pm  • 

CEDAR LAKE | The Indiana Court of Appeals has found in favor of Cedar Lake in the matter involving its former Park Board.

The court handed down a ruling Thursday saying the town was within its rights to dissolve the Park Board in 2011.

"The law of the state has been upheld,” Town Attorney David Austgen said. “We are permitted by legislative vision to do what we did.”

The court cited the Indiana Home Rule Act in reversing a decision last May by Superior Court Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider to reinstate the board.

“There is no statutory prohibition against the town’s exercise of authority to dissolve the Park Board or the Parks Department,” the ruling said. “Accordingly, the town’s exercise of that authority (to dissolve the board) was lawful.”

Karen Tallian, attorney for the former board members, could not be reached for comment.

Former Park Board members Gina Alessia, Candi Reiling and Andrew Balkema filed suit against the town in 2011 after they were dismissed from the Park Board. All three were unexpectedly removed from the board in March of that year, and the suit was filed after a new board was appointed.

A month later, the new Park Board resigned. Alessia, Reiling and Balkema were then reappointed with back pay, but the Town Council immediately voted to dissolve the board.

Park Board duties, including oversight of the Cedar Lake Department of Parks and Recreation, and park properties were then transferred to the Town Council.

Schneider ruled in the plaintiff’s favor the following spring, stating the council did not show cause for dismissing the Park Board members, as is required by state statute.

She also ruled the entire Park Board be reinstated, and that all properties formerly deeded to it be returned.

The town then filed a motion to appeal. The decision from the appeals court was handed down Tuesday.

“The court found that (the town) has the authority to do what it did,” Austgen said.

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