Broadview library suit drags on

By Jean Lotus Staff Reporter

A rendering of the proposed Broadview Public Library addition (Photo courtesy of Broadview Public Library)

A multi-year dispute between the Broadview Public Library and the Village of Broadview took a detour May 31, when a Cook County Chancery Court judge dismissed the library’s request for sanctions against the village without prejudice, giving the library leave to re-plead.

While law firms for both sides are supposedly negotiating a settlement, the library also asked the court to consider extra sanctions for the village, which it claims “has advanced bogus legal positions and filed frivolous pleadings to unnecessarily delay the resolution of this dispute.”

At the same time, the library board’s lawyers are waiting for the village to respond to the library’s request for summary judgment.

The library suit, filed in 2015, claims former Mayor Sherman Jones and Building Commissioner David Upshaw have blocked, delayed and sabotaged the construction of a planned 5,000-square-foot addition, meant to be constructed in 2012. The library board asserts the mayor attempted to sway the board to abandon the addition plan, approved by voters in a 2012 referendum, in favor of a new building on a different site with preferred developers.

Broadview Trustee Sherman Jones and Mayor Katrina Thompson at the village board meeting, June 5. (Chronicle Media)

The library’s lawyers have asserted that delays, debt service and rising costs have eaten up $1.2 million of the original funds. But village trustees have worried that they can’t afford to pay those costs.

At a village board meeting June 5, Broadview trustees declined to pay any of the village bills after an argument about whether a third set of lawyers — for the trustees — should be paid for their work in the library suit.

The village has been without a budget for months and just hired a new finance director Monday. Trustees have said in the past that they are unwilling to agree to a settlement with the library, especially for $1 million or more, without a clear picture of the village’s finances.

New Mayor Katrina Thompson was formerly a library trustee and has now stepped down. She has said she will recuse herself from voting on the settlement. Thompson said June 5 she was not able to speak about the library matter because it involved pending litigation.

Upshaw, who was also elected library trustee, must recuse himself from voting on matters regarding the construction, according to the library’s bylaws. Upshaw was also named in another lawsuit filed in May by James Pearson alleging he may have demanded a bribe in connection with the sale of a commercial building.

As for the library, the delays continue.

“We have heard nothing from the village regarding settlement talks,” said Library Board President Katrina Arnold in a text. “The village never came back to the table after a December talk. They said they needed to look at the numbers, but that has been six months of looking.”

The village’s response to the motion for sanctions says the library is seeking to “harass the village into the quick result which the Plaintiff desires.” The village acknowledges that some of the settlement talks have “not been fruitful,” but insists they have acted in good faith.

“I’m staying positive all will work out very soon,” said Arnold.

The next hearing for the library suit is scheduled for July 13.


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