Brewing Controversy: City Of San Antonio Negotiating With Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group

Months go by and the property dispute at the Hays Street Bridge remains unsolved. - KEVIN FEMMEL
Kevin Femmel
Months go by and the property dispute at the Hays Street Bridge remains unsolved.

A slow-brewing controversy beneath the Hays Street Bridge is actually still fermenting.

The City of San Antonio and the Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group quietly started negotiating a settlement this spring after the city appealed a court decision that found it breached its contract with the restoration group.

"The court ordered us to participate in mediation and so we did that at the end March," Amy Kastely, a lawyer representing the restoration group, told the San Antonio Current.

At issue is land at 803 N. Cherry St., which the city sold to Alamo Beer Co. in December, after the trial court ruled against it.

The appeals court ordered both sides this month to provide an update on the status of settlement negotiations by June 22.

But details on the settlement discussions are scant.

Kastely said the parties mediated for a full day, but she didn't provide specifics.

"We reached some preliminary areas that we agreed to explore," Kastely said.

The City Attorney's Office did not respond to a request for comment on the case, where it stands now and what's next.

In July, a jury found the city breached its 2002 contract with the group, which raised funds to save the bridge when it was considered for demolition in 1994 to make way for a hike-and-bike trail.

The Hays Street Bridge Restoration Group talked BudCo Ltd., the lot's former owner, into donating the land to the city for a park in 2007, but San Antonio argued the land was donated without a specific use.

"And then the judge in September agreed with the jury's finding and then by December, the city sells the land," said Graciela Sanchez, director of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, which backs the restoration group. "They did it despite the fact that we won in court."

The land couldn't be used for commercial purposes, Sanchez said.

Interim City Attorney Martha Sepeda told the San Antonio Express-News in December that the city was in compliance with the judge's order when it sold the land.

"If we're filing the notice of appeal, it's because of legal issues raised — whether the city can be sued, or whether we must follow through on the performance of a contract that we don't even agree is a contract," Sepeda told the newspaper.

None of this sits well with activists.

"There's been a lot of lies and deception," Sanchez said. "It's very disturbing."

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