CEDAR LAKE | Candi Reiling and Gina Alessia are ready to resume their posts on the Park Board, but both realize "it's not over yet."
Alessia, Reiling and a third Park Board member, Andrew Balkema, had sued the Town Council last year after they were removed as Park Board members. Last month, Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider ruled the Town Council did not show cause for dismissing them, as required by state statute.
The judge also ruled the entire Park Board be reinstated, and that all properties formerly deeded to it be returned.
"I’m very happy about the ruling," Alessia said Tuesday. Alessia also said she still believes the Park Board was dissolved as part of a "vendetta" against Mary Joan Dickson, the park director.
"(Dickson) needs a strong board to support her," Alessia said, adding that dismissing the board was "a disservice to the town."
"This court counters that such at-will abolishment powers destroys the creditability of the Town Council and puts residents in danger of a renegade Town Council," Kavadias Schneidershe wrote.
Town Attorney David Austgen said last week Kavadias Schneider's decision had been received and is being reviewed and assessed. He declined further comment.
Reiling's and Alessia's attorney, Karen Tallian, said Cedar Lake has two options: "They can reinstate these people" or file an appeal. Tallian said she has not heard from Cedar Lake officials.
If Cedar Lake decides not to appeal, Reiling and Alessia said they would be happy to resume their positions.
"We fought for this," Reiling said. "I would (serve) because this is something I believe in."
Reiling had planned to attend the Cedar Lake Town Council work session Tuesday but it had ended by the time she got there at 7 p.m. Most council meetings start at 7 p.m. but Tuesday’s work session began at 6 p.m. She and others were unaware the session had been scheduled earlier.
"I’m happy about the ruling," she said, "but it’s not over yet."