MetroParks wants court to 'clarify' Greenway ruling

HURON TWP. Erie MetroParks officials say they plan to comply with a court ruling ordering them to pa
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010



Erie MetroParks officials say they plan to comply with a court ruling ordering them to pay landowners for property used for the Huron River Greenway, but say they're still trying to understand what the Ohio Supreme Court wants.

The park system's lawyers have filed a motion seeking to clarify aspects of the ruling, said Tom Dusza, president of the Erie MetroParks board.

Although the motion before the Ohio Supreme Court is labeled a "motion for reconsideration," the park system is not trying to overturn the court's unanimous verdict, Dusza said. It's really a "motion to clarify," he said.

Parks officials would like the court to explain exactly what parcels are involved in the decision. The park system also would like advice on whether it is necessary to keep the Huron River Greenway closed, Dusza said.

On Nov. 20, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled 6-0, with one justice not taking part ,that Erie MetroParks had taken land without compensation for the Huron River Greenway, a path following an old railroad line that runs north of Milan. The court ordered the parks to compensate the landowners.

Park officials reacted a few days later by closing the Huron River Greenway to the public, fearing that people using it would be accused of trespassing on private property.

Dusza said he is still trying to get the answers to how many landowners will be compensated, how much money the park system owes and other lingering questions.

"I wish I had a handle on it so we could start planning," he said. "I keep telling everybody we need to talk to our attorneys."

Dusza said he plans to meet next week with the park system's attorneys and new director Stephen Dice to discuss how Erie MetroParks should proceed.

Unless the cases are settled out of court, juries will make the ultimate decision on how much money will be paid to each landowner, Dusza said. Typically, the government unit does a property appraisal, the landowner does an appraisal and then both sides present their case in court.