By Tim Farley, News Editor – A Dallas-based attorney for Piedmont Park Project organizers provided “typical responses” to a federal lawsuit filed in Houston.
The lawsuit was filed by a Houston-area contractor who sued several Piedmont individuals and the Piedmont Library & Cultural Events Society for failure to pay more than $150,000 for building and installing the park’s splash pad.
Defendants named in the lawsuit are Piedmont builder Phil Boevers, F&M Bank presidents Eric Anderson and Terry Anderson and Paul Francel.
Terri Garcia, a Houston attorney who represents contractor SEE Spray and its owner Rick Edwards, said she expected jurisdictional arguments from Piedmont park lawyer Andres’ Correa. Correa wrote in his response to the federal lawsuit that SEE Spray did not present sufficient facts to justify a case being filed in federal court in Texas.
“Those are typical responses and motions filed in federal court,” Garcia said. “I was expecting jurisdictional arguments. I knew those objections would come up. But let me say, there were enough contacts and communications that occurred in Texas to warrant jurisdiction in a Texas federal court.”
Garcia said she intends to file a response to the Piedmont Park Project objections.
In the meantime, Piedmont Park Project representatives have stalled attempts by the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette to obtain a copy of the park’s donors and expenditures. The project’s Oklahoma City attorney, Gideon Lincecum, declined to comment on the finances and referred inquiries to the Piedmont park group.
Park project spokesman Eric Anderson did not return a telephone call for comment.
“This is serious. I’m at a loss why no one in that community wants to know where the money went,” Garcia said.
Previously, the park’s Facebook site stated that all financial information would be made public.
A Facebook post dated Nov. 7, 2017, states, “Piedmont Park Project financial records have always been and will continue to be available for unrestricted examination by directly contacting the Piedmont Park Project organizers.”
As part of the federal lawsuit, Garcia is requesting a judge to order park organizers to open their finances and provide a list of donations and expenditures. A substantial amount of the money collected comes from government grants, including the Oklahoma Commerce Department.
Piedmont’s city council voted to give $150,000 to the project.
The city council is expected to eventually take possession of the park, but Piedmont City Manager Jason Orr said it’s unlikely to take control of the park until all legal issues are resolved, including a lien filed against the splash pad equipment by SEE Spray.
Garcia also commented that she’s surprised the park remains closed.
“My client has not done one thing to prevent them from opening the park,” she said. “The park could be open now. To me, the very people who were volunteers and donated their money are being punished for no reason. To me, it’s just said.”
The Nov. 7 Facebook post by the Piedmont Park Project blames SEE Spray and the liens that were filed against the park property as reasons the park is not open.
“These subcontractors are not interested in seeing he park open, but are only hoping to wrongfully leverage payment for their defective and substandard work by delaying the dedication of the property.”
Garcia demanded the Piedmont park organizers pay SEE Spray and resolve the issue now.
“Pay the people who did the work and open the park. It’s that simple,” she said. “But there’s been no gesture to work this out from the people in Piedmont.”
However, Garcia said she was encouraged by a comment Correa made during a telephone call between the two lawyers.
“During one of our short calls, he made the comment that he looks forward to a possible resolution,” she said. “That’s the first time anyone associated with this case has made that kind of statement.”
In a related lawsuit filed in Canadian County by the Piedmont Park Project, District Judge
Paul Hesse dismissed defendant Susan Hellen from the case and issued a default judgment against defendant Armando Rodriguez, who was a subcontractor on the splash pad.
The default judgment states Rodriguez has no right or title to the property listed in the lien filed by Garcia. However, no decision was rendered in connection with the remaining defendants in the Canadian County case.
The Piedmont Park Project sued SEE Spray, Edwards, James Anthony and Garcia for alleged breach of contract.