By JOHN T. WARD
A state court judge has dismissed a lawsuit by two non-resident property owners who claimed that Red Bank illegally settled an earlier suit with the Community YMCA over the onetime borough hall at 51 Monmouth Street.
Superior Court Judge Patricia DelBueno Cleary granted a summary judging dismissing all claims by Cindy Burnham and attorney Bill Meyer at a hearing in Freehold late Thursday morning, Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen.
“In essence we won,” Menna said. “It’s unfortunate the borough had to expend money to defend itself.”
Burnham, a residential landlord who lives in Fair Haven, and Meyer, a Tinton Falls resident who owns a commercial building on Monmouth Street, could not be reached for immediate comment.
Also unavailable for comment was John Bonello, the Long Branch retained by the borough.
Menna said that because of the nature of the matter, no trial was expected.
“There was no real dispute as to the facts, and the borough and the YMCA both asked the judge to rule as a matter of law that what we did was legal,” Menna said.
The Meyer/Burnham suit centered on the January settlement of a lawsuit brought by the YMCA against the borough over costs incurred by the Y to renovate the Relief Engine Company firehouse, which is attached to the old borough hall on the Doremus Place side. The Y was the successor to a now-defunct entity called Kidsbridge, which had purchased 51 Monmouth from the borough for $1 in 2000, and entered into a cost-sharing deal over renovations.
The Y’s lawsuit was filed after the borough moved to block a sale of the building by the Y to St. James RC Church/Red Bank Catholic High School. The pending deal has been reported to be worth $1.2 million.
In their suit, filed in March, Burnham and Meyer took aim at the absence from deeds and other documents of a so-called reverter clause, which would have enabled the borough to recapture the property if any terms of the transfer were violated.
But even without the reverter clause, they say, prevailing state law required the borough to keep the property from being transferred to a religious organization.
Menna said the last time he checked, the case had cost about $10,000 in legal fees, but he didn’t have a current figure.