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Just when it appeared the fat lady was stepping to the microphone to sing, a “hiccup” interrupted what would have been a final agreement for the transfer of ownership of Deer Creek and Dyegard water systems in eastern Parker County.
Early Friday, Dec. 11, the four mayors, from the coalition of cities involved in the court-ordered mediation to resolve the five-year-long battle of the cities against the City of Willow Park regarding the water systems, signed a final agreement that had been tweaked by attorneys in the weeks-long process.
The final agreement, derived from a Nov. 13 mediation, allowed the City of Hudson Oaks to purchase Dyegard water system from the City of Willow Park for $2.8 million and obtain a portion of the ETJ which is in Dyegard’s CNN area of service. Plus, the agreement said the City of Annetta would purchase Deer Creek Water Works for $6.1 million, plus cash in the Enterprise Funds held by the City of Willow Park.
The mayors at the Dec. 11 signing of the agreement included Pat Deen, Hudson Oaks; Kit Marshall, Aledo; Phil Lumsden, Annetta; and Gerhard Kleinschmidt, Annetta South. They gathered at Hudson Oaks’ city hall, along with some of the water systems’ customers, or ratepayers, who agreed at the time of the mediation’s agreement signing to drop their rate protest, filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, against the City of Willow Park.
Willow Park Mayor Ken Hawkins said the signed final agreement that came to the City of Willow Park at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11, contained a clause that would not excuse the city from future or existing lawsuits.
From the final agreement that came out of the Nov. 13 mediation, term No. 5 reads, “All TCEQ docket cases and lawsuits involving the parties will be dismissed with prejudice by agreement of the parties upon execution of a definitive agreement of the parties, which agreement will be executed on or before Dec. 4, 2009.”
Hawkins said, “What came to us was a direct abridgement to what we agreed to,” he said.
Hawkins said several lawyers from all parties had been working for three weeks to develop the final agreement. “At noon Thursday, we were all agreed that the document was okay.”
However, he said, the four-mayor-signed agreement that came to Willow Park at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 11, was not the document previously agreement upon. “This (agreement) inserted a new clause and we never saw these documents until 11:30 a.m. today,” he said. “This clause exposes Willow Park to lawsuits.”
Willow Park officials decided not to sign the agreement until the matter is resolved. “We may be going back to the mediator,” Hawkins said.
City of Hudson Oaks Administrator Sheri Campbell-Husband replied, “The version signed this morning at Hudson Oaks is the version all attorneys, including Willow Park’s attorneys, signed off on late yesterday.”
After the signing at Hudson Oaks city hall early Friday, a news release and photo of the signing event was issued by the City of Hudson Oaks. In the news release, Mayor Pat Deen said, “We have signed and we have forwarded the agreement to Willow Park. Everybody on our end is happy with the agreement.”
Friday afternoon, the City of Hudson Oaks issued an advisement regarding the earlier-released news. “I need to make you aware of a hitch in the Deer Creek settlement situation,” wrote City of Hudson Oaks Administrator Sheri Campbell-Husband. “I just received a call from our attorney’s office. It seems that two of the exhibits that were to be included as part of the settlement document were not received in time to finalize the settlement signing today.”
It was noted the exhibits are descriptions of real estate and assets in the two water systems.
For an updated story on the situation, see the Dec. 18 issue of The Community News.