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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2002

Disagreements slow amphitheater talks

Mediation could be used to resolve a dispute between Rossford and Perrysburg Township over the stalled Crossroads of America ice arena-amphitheater project, but only if several key issues are included in the talks, township Trustee Chairman Nathan Hagemeister said yesterday.

The township refused to send a representative to a closed-door meeting yesterday arranged by the Joint Economic Development Authority of the city of Rossford and Perrysburg Township.

The meeting was for creditors and interested parties to discuss the framework for a mediation process to settle problems surrounding the Rossford Arena Amphitheater Authority project.

Rex Huffman, the economic development authority's attorney, could not be reached for comment on the meeting.

One of the key creditors is Perrysburg Township, which contributed $5 million to the project. The township wants to recoup the $5 million with interest.

But trustees are reluctant to sit down for mediation until other issues, including revenue sharing, public records requests, and annexation are resolved.

“There's just so much hostility that's developed between the city and township, and we just want to get it all settled at once,” Mr. Hagemeister said.

The township, which has filed two lawsuits against Rossford and the RAAA regarding the proposed $48 million project, sent the city a letter this week outlining its position on mediation. Mr. Hagemeister emphasized that the township is willing to hold mediation talks, as long as the city agrees to negotiate on a number of issues.

“We're not saying we won't go to mediation. If they're willing to sit down with these conditions, then we'll be in mediation tomorrow,” he said.

Vince Langevin, Rossford city administrator, said the city is willing to talk, but he's not sure what the township wants.

“Sooner or later, we need to address those issues. But I don't know exactly where they are coming from on a number of those issues,” he said.

Included in the township's stipulations:

  • Rossford and its affiliates provide all the records the trustees requested to determine what happened to their $5 million investment so they have “an accurate accounting of what happened with the financial aspect,” Mr. Hagemeister said. The records request is part of one of the lawsuits.

  • The mediation talks should include discussion on revenue sharing, annexation, and the provision of safety services to the Crossroads of America project.

  • The township should have “significant input” in the choice of the person who conducts the mediation.

    “The feeling is if we're going to get our problems solved, then let's get them all solved at once and get into a positive situation,” Mr. Hagemeister said.

    Mr. Langevin said the city has provided the requested records to the township through the lawsuit. He said the city already has a revenue sharing and annexation agreement with the township.

    However, he said it may be possible for the two sides to address Tax Increment Financing, an infrastructure funding device that Mr. Hagemeister said has cost the township money.

    Mr. Langevin said it might be possible to discuss that issue with the township, but City Council would have to approve any changes.

    He said there are no plans by the city to directly respond to the township's stipulations, but the lawsuits and disagreements need to be resolved before the project can go forward.

    “It is certainly being unduly delayed because of it. We certainly need all the creditors together to move forward,” Mr. Langevin said.



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