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Published: Wednesday, 6/25/2008

Perrysburg Township ends quest to recoup loan to Rossford

BY GABE NELSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After nine years and multiple failed lawsuits, Perrysburg Township has ended its quest to make the city of Rossford repay a $5 million loan for an arena and amphitheater complex that never materialized.

On Friday, the Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear the township's appeal of a decision issued by the 6th District Court of Appeals in January. The Supreme Court's one-sentence decision, signed by Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer, stalled the township's final remaining lawsuit against Rossford and the Rossford Arena Amphitheater Authority.

In line with an April settlement, the township will not instigate any new attempts to recover the money, Township Administrator John Hrosko said. "It's a done deal," he said. "We're not going to pursue it any more."

The township filed several suits in an effort to recover the money, loaned in 1999 to begin construction on a 12,000-seat hockey arena and 15,000-seat amphitheater at the Ohio Turnpike and I-75.

The authority had agreed to repay the money over two years with 8 percent interest, assuming it secured long-term funding for the project. But it couldn't find investors, so construction came to a halt and the loan was never repaid.

The township's attorney, John Donahue, argued in district court that Rossford was required to repay the money because it failed to register the loan as a security with the state. But judges ruled the loan did not have to be registered with the Ohio Division of Securities because it was not offered for sale to the public.

The city's trustees "made a gallant effort to recover that money," Mr. Hrosko said. "They're just not going to spend any more money trying to pursue it."

The land for which the $48-million development was planned was sold in 2006 to the Ohio Carpenters' Pension Fund, which was owed $2.4 million by the amphitheater authority.

Rossford Mayor Bill Verbosky described the end to the legal battle as "bittersweet," saying the debacle soured the city's relationship with Perrysburg Township.

But he said he looks forward to watching the development of the nearby Crossroads of America, where the Bass Pro outdoor megastore will hold a grand opening July 2.

"It's been a long process, and at this point we're just looking forward to moving forward," Mr. Verbosky said. "There's a lot of nice progress happening in the Crossroads."



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