City agrees to proceed with litigation regarding pool contract

Grand Marais city councilors voted 4-1 May 9 to pursue 
litigation against the Wisconsin firm, Burbach Aquatics. The action, 
if successful, will allow the city to participate in ongoing efforts 
to construct a community center.
An action for declaratory judgment will be filed by Flaherty & Hood, 
the city’s legal counsel, seeking relief against Burbach Aquatics 
Inc. The firm has alleged that, based on a 2005 contract it signed 
with the city regarding possible repair or replacement of Grand 
Marais’ municipal swimming pool, a breach of contract will exist if 
the city takes part in construction of a new community center or any 
facility that includes an aquatics center, and does not utilize 
Burbach’s services. Because of those legal threats, the city has not 
taken part in any planning sessions regarding the community center.
The resolution not only states that the city disputes Burbach’s 
claims that any action means a breach of contract, but it affirms the
city’s “desire to support the Cook County community center’s 
future operations and maintenance…in an annual amount not to exceed 
the $156,000 average annual net operating loss the city incurs in 
operating and maintaining the city’s municipal swimming pool.”
It was that part of the resolution that caused some discussion. Mayor 
Larry Carlson said he was not comfortable including the $156,000 
figure in the resolution. He said, “This says we support construction 
of a community center, and I don’t. I’m not in support of this,” 
he said.
Councilor Tim Kennedy said the resolution is designed simply to move 
the process forward, and is not “an agreement with anything the 
county comes up with.”
“This doesn’t commit the city to say ‘anything goes,’ but 
allows us to be part of the process,” said Kennedy.
Councilor and park board member Bill Lenz said he wants a new 
community center, but not necessarily one that’s been proposed to 
date. “I do not like what they’ve shown us so far, but we’re 
powerless to do anything,” said Lenz. “This (declaratory judgment) 
will allow us to take part in future planning discussions.”