Lenox awaits decision on fate of belvedere lawsuit
LENOX -- The town continues to await a ruling from a Suffolk Superior Court judge in Boston on whether to dismiss the lawsuit filed by 20 citizens against Lenox or to allow the case to move forward.
Town Manager Gregory Federspiel provided an update on the matter this week to the Kennedy Park Committee.
Federspiel addressed the status of the suit in response to a query from committee member Terry Weaver, who asked where the lawsuit stands and whether individual members of the committee are named as defendants. The town manager assured him that even if individuals were listed, which they are not, the law firm handling the matter, Kopelman and Paige of Boston, would handle their defense.
The lawsuit filed on May 17 naming the town of Lenox and Attorney General Martha Coakley as defendants seeks removal of the Kennedy Park Belvedere on the south-facing overlook. According to the civil lawsuit filed on behalf of the citizens, Coakley is named because, the suit alleges, a "conflict of interest" prevents town government from enforcing "its own violations of the public trust."
The case, docketed as Bykofsky et. al. v. Lenox et. al., lists 20 plaintiffs in non-alphabetical order, starting with Sonya Bykofsky, leader of the citizens' group protesting the memorial erected in the spring of 2011 as a tribute to Dr. Jordan Fieldman. He was a BMC physician who died of cancer in 2006 at the age of 38, and had been a devotee of the park.
The belvedere was funded by his father, Michael Fieldman, a New York-based architect, who paid about $140,000 for the installation. Fieldman sent a $10,000 donation to the town recently to help maintain the Kennedy Park overlook -- the check was deposited into the town's account.
Kopelman and Paige filed a motion in early September seeking a summary judgment -- a ruling by the judge -- to dismiss the suit. One of the firm's attorneys defending Lenox, Jonathan Silverstein, told The Eagle at the time that "I've learned long ago not to try to handicap a case. But there are very strong arguments for why the case should be dismissed and we're hoping the judge agrees."
A public hearing in which attorneys for both sides present their cases for and against a quick dismissal would precede any ruling.
Attorney Robert N. Meltzer of Mountain States Law Group in Framingham, representing the citizens, did not return messages left for him at his office and on his cellphone.
In his lawsuit, Meltzer argued that the granite memorial is an obtrusive nuisance and violates the state's Scenic Mountain Act.
At its Thursday meeting, the Kennedy Park Committee also reviewed a complaint filed by Bykofsky, representing Citizens Advocacy for All, about alleged violations of the open meeting law on Oct. 18.
Committee Chairman Robert Coakley denied point by point three written allegations that claimed errors in minutes of a previous meeting, that topics discussed had not been posted on the agenda, and that another topic should have been listed under "old business" instead of "new business."
During the meeting, Bykofsky also contended that "illegal tree cutting" on Kennedy Park land adjacent to her home on Main Street had not been addressed by the committee or the police. In one instance, she said, tree-cutting had jeopardized the safety of children nearby, and that she had made a video but had not notified police about the specific incident.
Bykofsky stated that her two previous complaints to the police had not resulted in action because the police required verification from another source such as the committee.
Coakley clarified that the committee has no enforcement authority in case of violations. Federspiel suggested that committee members or other citizens observing such activities write a letter to the Selectmen outlining their concerns.
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