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Published: Friday, 3/30/2001

Perrysburg Township ponders lawsuit over arena loan

Perrysburg Township trustees scheduled yesterday's meeting to talk about litigation involving the Rossford Arena Amphitheater Authority. But residents interested in seeing the township go after the money the authority owes it were soon disappointed.

Trustees immediately went into executive session with attorneys Phil Dombey and John Donahue to discuss “threatened and pending litigation,” and when they emerged an hour-and-a-half later, they adjourned without taking any action.

“We listened to attorneys and got information. We haven't made any decisions,'' Chairman Bill Miller told the residents who waited for trustees to return to the public meeting.

Mr. Dombey said the legal issues discussed included litigation involving annexation and assessments by the Rossford Transportation Improvement District – the agency created to build roads and install water and sewer lines in the Crossroads of America.

Bayer Road resident Barb Harbauer reminded the board that Trustee Nathan Hagemeister promised last year that trustees would not discuss anything regarding Rossford issues in private.

In 1999, the township gave the authority a $5 million unsecured loan to help get a proposed $48 million ice hockey arena and outdoor amphitheater built at the Crossroads of America – former township land south of I-75 and the Ohio Turnpike that was annexed to Rossford. Interest payments the authority has failed to pay over the last two years have increased the debt to more than $5.8 million.

The authority last year abandoned plans to build the arena but still intends to finish the amphitheater if it can secure financing. A group of creditors owed in excess of $18 million has been waiting for something to happen that might allow the authority to repay them.

Mr. Miller said after the meeting that pursuing legal action against the authority “was brought up” in the executive session, but he added, “We haven't made any determination to do that.”

He said he does not favor pressing the issue in court – at least not until other creditors take that step.

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