Dees to call town hall meeting over Holiday Island lawsuits, problems
HOLIDAY ISLAND -- Calling the two assessment of benefits lawsuits against Holiday Island "a lawyer's dream and a property owner's nightmare," developer Tom Dees got up at the end of the HISID meeting Monday to comment on the situation.
He said he is planning to call a town hall meeting and will need three hours to lay everything out about the problems Holiday Island is facing.
"Everything that's happened has been our own making," he said. "We went 40 years without any problems, and it started with the Reassessment of Benefits, which, in my opinion, was flawed, and from that, litigation started."
He said he had made several attempts, unknown to property owners, to settle these suits out of court. One of them is Table Rock Landing v. HISID and Dees' Holiday Island Development Corp. Dees also sits on the TRL board.
The other suit is Bischoff v. HISID.
Dees said he had met with the Bischoffs several times, Chairman Ken Ames several times, and has "had this thing solved several times, in my opinion."
He said he has been unsuccessful in getting the board to call a special meeting to "let me tell you about it."
He said he had met with the Bischoffs' lawyer, Tim Hutchinson, whose family he has known for 40 years. He met with them for two hours.
"We structured a deal that I think would work. We can get this litigation stopped and the class action stopped within 60 days."
He said the Bischoffs were out of town, and he has not talked to them or seen them, but Hutchinson said they might be willing to go with the proposal.
He said it could have been stopped last year when mediation talks were scheduled at Cornerstone Bank with parties from both lawsuits.
"In my opinion, we could have stopped that thing for $5,000 or $10,000," Dees said. "The district, in their wisdom, with their chairman (Linda Griswold at the time), the district manager (Gerald Hartley) and their attorney refused to let me come in the building. We had three or four attorneys in there and probably $3,000 to $4,000 on the table. When I got to the door, they wouldn't let me come in the door."
He added, "You can't get very far with arrogance, and that's your problem. Holiday Island has seen its best days unless you wake up. You'd better settle this thing, and settle it quickly, or you might as well drive through Fairfield Bay and see your future. I've been doing this 43 years. I understand this business."
He said Holiday Island needs to "get together and heal this thing, or you're not going to have anything in two to three years."
He said he had met with each HISID board member individually last week to tell them what he has done and what he was trying to do to solve the problems. He said all five came by and spent at least an hour and a half.
"I think we can solve it," he said. "If you don't solve it, you're getting ready to spend a half million dollars on litigation."
He referred to a recent newspaper article in Carroll County News about the Bischoff suit's 23-page discovery demand for documents going back to Holiday Island's inception in 1970. He said it will take two years to get all that together.
"This is a lawyer's dream and a property owner's nightmare," he said. "And it's going to keep going and going and going until you're broke.... You're on a fast downhill slide. You'd better get together with this community and get this thing turned around, or there's not going to be a community here."
He said if the parties allow the lawyers to run it, it will "never get settled."
"There's no one here who disagrees that we need to settle this," said Ames. "We have a little bit more intelligence than some people give us credit for. But we want to come up with something that is going to be agreeable to all parties."
"I'm not angry," Dees said. "I'm just trying to tell you what's going to happen to you."
He reiterated it could be settled within 60 days. Many members of the audience applauded as he left the podium.