As the Rappahannock News went to press Wednesday, lawyers for the town of Washington and the Inn at Little Washington were still negotiating a possible settlement with attorney David Konick, whose lawsuit challenging the town’s and Inn’s actions in a 2013 “Town Beautification” project has stalled in circuit court — although even the stalled suit could be revived today, June 18 being the court-ordained deadline for Konick to amend his original petition.
Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey W. Parker ruled that Konick, who isn’t a town resident, did not prove he had “standing” to pursue the suit, but gave him a chance to amend the petition. Apparently, the town has interpreted Parker’s ruling as a victory; Konick has interpreted it as a guideline for crafting an amended petition.
The settlement negotiations began last week at the urging of several local leaders sensitive to the thought of a tourism-dependent county advertising its dogfights.
Konick said Wednesday afternoon that he and town attorney John Bennett and Inn attorney David Fiske were still negotiating the terms of an agreement to bring two months of litigation and acrimony to an end. Konick is reportedly seeking several further actions by the town council and the Inn to “make right” their allegedly illegal actions in 2013, when the town ceded the stub end of Middle Street to the Inn, which owns properties on all three sides of it, and appropriated $20,000 toward the Inn’s $200,000 project to improve the corner of Main and Middle streets, where Rappahannock County’s No. 1 visitor attraction sits.
The town council had scheduled a special meeting for last night (Wednesday, June 17), ostensibly to ratify any agreement or agreed-upon action. As the afternoon deadline for a settlement decision approached (as did the afternoon deadline for the newspaper’s pages to arrive at the printer), Washington Mayor John Sullivan expressed doubt that an agreement would be reached — and said it was likely the evening council meeting would be called off.
“One of my biggest concerns is that everybody . . . wants the post office issue to be resolved,” Sullivan said, referring to the Inn’s ongoing negotiations with the postal facility whose lease in the Inn-owned Krebser Building expires in August — negotiations that Fiske has repeatedly said “will not continue” as long as the ownership of the stub street (necessary for renovations, the Inn says) is in question, or in court. (The postal service, on the other hand, keeps saying that negotiations are continuing.)
“As long as Mr. konick continues to tie things up in court, he’s imposing impediments to the Inn getting the job done with the post office,” Sullivan said. “And even he has said he wants the post office to remain there. But he continues to make demands.”
The town council (on which Inn founder and chef Patrick O’Connell sits) redid the stub street transaction in May, but Konick has said it’s still being “given away” improperly.