New Castle News

June 26, 2013

Court asked to end ‘War of the Roses’

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE —

A battle that began with a rose bush remains a thorny issue in Pulaski Township.

This week, the New Bedford Lions Club went to court seeking an injunction to get back into a building they donated to the Pulaski Township supervisors in 2005.

Attorney George Freed, representing the club, filed for an injunction Monday. He asked that Lawrence County Common Pleas Courts order the township to return to the club a key to the facility, allow the Lions access to the building without incurring any fees, stop harassing Lions Club members and to maintain the property and trim all shrubs at township expense.

The club, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for the blind, formerly met in the building, but it has been closed to them since September 2011.  The club also hosted its annual dinner for the blind there, but the supervisors allegedly complained that cake crumbs and icing were left behind.

Soon after that, club members said, the supervisors changed the lock on the door and told the club that a $100 security/cleaning deposit must be paid to the township prior to each use of the facilities —  something never required in the past. They also said the key must be obtained from the township building prior to an event and returned the following  morning.

Club members last week said friction between the supervisors escalated after they requested that the supervisors place a plaque in the building, noting that it had been donated by the organization

“We were going to pay for the plaque ourselves,” said Lions president Bruce Clingan. “They rejected our request.”

That came on the heels of an incident last year involving the planting of two rose bushes. Club members observed that greenery around the building was covering a sign  reading “New Bedford Lions Club, Chartered 1949.”

Clingan said he asked that the overgrown bush be trimmed and was told to see to it himself. He said he hired someone to do it, but was told the bush was “more dead than alive.” After the trimming, the bush looked unsightly.

Clingan said he pulled it out and planted two rose bushes under the sign, at his own expense.

This was apparently not satisfactory to the supervisors, who filed vandalism charges. They also demanded that the club replace the original gold juniper bush with a specimen identical to the existing bushes at a cost of $355.

“This has become a hardship for the Lions who can’t hold a legal meeting,” Clingan said, noting that the club’s charter, flag and other memorabilia remain locked away from the members, in the back room of the building at the park.

The club also was obligated to forgo its  annual dinner for the blind.

In court documents, Freed alleges that the township has breached the agreement between the club and the municipality. The agreement, signed July 11, 2005, conveys the building and other property of the former New Bedford Lions Club Park to the township with the condition that the club be allowed to continue to hold regular meetings at the site.

The petition noted that since the property was turned over to the township in 2005, the club has had a key to the facility. He also pointed out that the township realizes about $10,000 per year from the “Pulaski Fall Gathering,” held at the park, and that the township obtained a gas lease from the park facility and will receive royalty money in the future from the lease.