Grant PUD proposes to settle with Crescent Bar islanders
Friday, February 24, 2012
EPHRATA — The Grant County PUD has proposed a settlement with leaseholders who are fighting eviction from Crescent Bar Island and demanded that the dispute be resolved through arbitration — a requirement of the island’s lease.
The offer requires islanders to drop their federal lawsuit and pay a lot more for rent or risk the PUD filing a claim for frivilous lawsuit against them.
The PUD mailed the settlement offer to the islanders’ attorneys Thursday.
The conditions of the proposed settlement include:
That Crescent Bar Inc., the company that manages the island, return to its original position that it has no interest in remaining involved with the island beyond June 1, 2012, one of the expiration dates stipulated in its 1979 lease with the PUD and Port of Quincy.
That position changed late last year, when the islanders took control of Crescent Bar Inc., added the company to their federal lawsuit against the PUD and port and announced that the company intended to remain on the island through 2023, the other expiration date included in the lease.
That Crescent Bar Inc. release the PUD from claims under the 1979 lease, including that the PUD had an obligation under the lease to extend the expiration date to 2023.
That Crescent Bar Inc. agrees to pay “reasonable rental value” for the property covered by the lease from April 1 until the PUD has complete control over the island.
In exchange, the PUD would allow islanders to remain on Crescent Bar past their June 1 eviction date until the dispute is resolved through arbitration.
The PUD would also agree not to file a claim against the islanders for frivilous lawsuit, the proposed settlement says.
The proposal gives the islanders 30 days to consider the settlement.
If the islanders reject the settlement the PUD demands to take the case to arbitration, a requirement of the 1979 lease.
Lew Card, one of the islanders’ attorneys, declined to comment until consulting with his clients and their other lawyers.
The 1979 lease is at the root of both sides’ arguments, because it contains two expiration dates, April 1, 2012 and Feb. 28, 2023.
The PUD claims the 2012 date is the correct, because the 2023 date required federal approval to take effect. That approval never came, PUD officials say.
The islanders claim the 2023 date is the correct one, because the lease says that federal approval was required only if the PUD considered it necessary.
The islanders hold leases to about 400 condos and RV lots on the island, which is on the Columbia River about 30 miles southeast of Wenatchee.
Islanders sued the PUD, the Port of Quincy, which leases Crescent Bar from the PUD, and Crescent Bar, Inc., which leases the island from the port and is the islanders’ direct landlord.
They sued in U.S. District Court in Spokane in January 2011.
Since then, both sides have had several hearings with the judge, including one in June, when the judge threw out a PUD motion to dismiss the suit for lack of proper jurisdiction.
PUD spokeswoman Sarah Morford said utility officials declined to explain why the utility only just now has demanded arbitration.
She said such an explanation would be part of legal strategy, which is confidential.
Christine Pratt: 665-1173
MORE LIKE THIS
Saturday, May 18
The Flying Karamazov Brothers
Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 19
Wenatchee Women's Show
Performing Arts Center of Wenatchee, 1 p.m.
Sunday, May 19
Local Author H.S. Clark is Signing His New Thriller at Hastings in Wenatchee
Hastings Entertainment, 315 9th St., Wenatchee, WA, 1 p.m.
Monday, May 20
Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking - Toastmasters Meeting
First United Methodist Church, 5:30 p.m.