CEDAR LAKE | The Park Board must halt all business until the lawsuit hanging over its existence has been resolved.
A ruling by a senior Superior Court judge Aug. 10 states the board may meet to discuss litigation and business related to it but may not discuss town business or take any actions.
The board twice has met since an order by Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider reinstated its members in May. On Aug. 2, the board voted on a proposed 2013 budget for Cedar Lake’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
The court action leaves Park Board members with narrowed options at the moment, said plaintiff’s attorney Karen Tallian. The only recourse the plaintiffs have against it is Appeals Court.
Tallian is involved in the litigation that originally reinstated her three clients as Park Board members.
Gina Alessia, Candi Reiling and Andrew Balkema were removed from the Cedar Lake Park Board by the Town Council in March 2011. The three filed a lawsuit after a new board was appointed, but in April the new members resigned.
Alessia, Reiling and Balkema then were reappointed with back pay, but the council immediately voted to dissolve the board.
At the same time the council completed a restructuring that included the Park Department. It established five council committees, including one for Parks and Recreation. Oversight of the Department of Parks and Recreation and park properties were then transferred to the Town Council.
In May, Schneider ordered the board be reinstated with back pay and park properties be returned to the Park Board. Alessia, Reiling and Balkema met in July as a board.
Town officials filed a motion asking that all Park Board business be halted until reinstatement is resolved.
In his Aug. 10 order granting the stay, Senior Judge E. Duane Daugherty wrote that “this case involves issues of law that are unclear, and there is reasonable likelihood that the defendant may prevail on the law. The Court further finds that some harm may occur to the defendants if the stay is not granted and they ultimately prevail upon their appeal.”