Judgment Postponed for Hays Street Bridge Suit

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The historic Hays Street Bridge at sunset. Photo by Juan Garcia.

The historic Hays Street Bridge at sunset. Photo by Juan Garcia.

The trial judge in the lawsuit that grew out of the City of San Antonio’s land sale for the Alamo Brewery Development in Dignowity Hill delayed a final ruling on Thursday, pleading a full docket and the need to review applicable law.

It was another court date without resolution after a jury trial held last month ended in a confused, seemingly contradictory verdict that left both parties, the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group and the City of San Antonio, seeking clarification.

A jury found 11-1 on July 12 that the City had violated a memorandum of understanding with the Restoration Group when it agreed to sell a property on 803 N. Cherry St. to Alamo Beer Co. owner Eugene Simor as part of a plan to extend the new brewery, currently under construction on an adjacent property. However, the jury also agreed that the City did not violate state law when they sold that property without a vote.

Attorneys representing the Hays Street Restoration Group and the City of San Antonio met Thursday afternoon in the courtroom of Judge David Canales to request a final ruling in the lawsuit.

In order to fully examine the case law presented by attorneys Amy Kastely (representing the Restoration Group) and Deborah Klein (representing the City), Canales tabled any judgment for Thursday. Canales will let Kastely and Klein know of his judgment through private contact, though it may be delayed due to Canales’ obligation to fill in for other judges attending a weekend conference.

In a release from the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, the group wrote that the second part of the verdict maintaining the land wasn’t intended for a park didn’t mean a loss for the Group, writing “the contract claim win makes an election unnecessary, since it gives the community a more direct basis for challenging the transfer of public land to Alamo Beer.”

After the jury returned its late-night verdict on Friday, July 12, Klein asked Canales to disregard the jury’s findings, while Kastely said she would request that the City provide certain services in lieu of a monetary award.

“(803 N. Cherry St.) has always been part of this plan, and that’s what the City knew when the contract was drafted,” Kastely said. “It is clear the City was reimbursed with cash, it is clear that the land was part of the agreement, and I think it is appropriate we are entitled to specific performance.”

The Restoration Group and Kastely made two specific requests: an injunction preventing Alamo Beer Co. to develop the land at 803 N. Cherry St. and for the City to use the land as part of the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Project.

“(The Restoration Group) wanted to benefit the public,” Kastely said. “They wanted this project to be something the public could enjoy.”

Klein said despite the jury’s verdict, there still remained no evidence of a contractual breach. She said the memorandum of understanding only stipulates for funds raised through the Restoration Group’s San Antonio Area Foundation fund, which did not accept in-kind donations.

“The jury spoke and said the land is not a park,” Klein said, though Kastely made no verbatim mention of a park in the request for judgment, instead saying the land be used for bathrooms and water fountains for those visiting the Hay Street Bridge. Klein said since the memorandum of understanding doesn’t cover the Cherry Street property, just the Hays Street Bridge, it was inappropriate to order the land used that way.

*Featured/top image: The historic Hays Street Bridge at sunset. Photo by Juan Garcia.

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Progress versus Protest: The Path to Smart Preservation and Development

A City of Lost Breweries Should Welcome the Alamo Brewery to the Eastside

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