PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A judge has ordered against the City of Portland in lawsuit regarding the sale of Congress Square.
The ruling states that the city should not have blocked the Friends of Congress Square from gathering signatures to put the matter to voters. The Friends of Congress Square want to circulate petitions to strengthen Portland's Land Bank ordinance to protect Congress Square and other parks in the city. The city refused to issue the paperwork for the petitions, arguing that the sale, acquisition and dedication of city property are administrative actions to be decided by the city council, and may not be the subject of citizens' initiatives. But the judge disagreed and has ordered the paperwork for the petitions be delivered to the Friends of Congress Square by 3 p.m. Friday. Frank Turek of the Friends of Congress Square says this petition is about making sure Portland citizens have a say in the sale of the city's parks.
"It only takes a minimum majority of five city councilors to sell any public park in the city, and it was through the process of trying to protect Congress Square that we realized that" Turek told NEWS CENTER.
The released a statement about the ruling today. It says in part:
"Upon review of the decision, and based upon our understanding of the case law, our office remains convinced that the City of Portland's position is correct. We are currently completing the required appeal documents including a request for a stay of the Judge's decision and we plan to have our filings submitted as soon as possible.Given the ongoing legal process and the complexities surrounding this matter it is difficult to determine the impact, if any, of this decision on the sale of Congress Square."
The group will have 80 days to collect 1500 signatures. They plan to be out collecting signatures on Election Day.