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Olsen Farms says City of Wilmington defaulted on building park

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WILMINGTON, NC (NEWS RELEASE) -- Olsen Farm of Wilmington, LLLP, from whom the City of Wilmington purchased approximately 64 acres in 2007 to develop Olsen Farms Park, believes that the City of Wilmington has violated the terms of the purchase agreement by failing to undertake development of the park in accordance with its terms and has retained a Wilmington law firm to explore its legal options.

“We’ve been asked to determine whether the City has breached the purchase agreement and what remedies exist for that breach,” said Gary K. Shipman of Shipman & Wright, LLP. The contract for the purchase and sale of the property was executed on March 26, 2007 and called for development of the Park in three phases. Phase One, which called for the construction of a baseball and softball complex with five fields, has been completed.

Pursuant to the purchase agreement, Phase Two required construction of multipurpose fields, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, passive park improvements and additional parking, with development of Phase Two to commence by July 1, 2011. “It appears that the City is more than a year behind on its obligations under the agreement, and to date, no satisfactory explanation has been given for the delay,” Shipman said.

To date, construction for Phase Two at the Park has not commenced. The principles of Olsen Farm of Wilmington, LLLP agreed to the sale of the park land with the express understanding that the Park would not just be a baseball and softball complex, and were assured that the park would be appropriate for all citizens of the County and the City with diverse interests. “My client is extremely disappointed that the City has not made completion of the Park a top priority, and we intend to make sure that the City honors its contractual obligations,” Shipman said.

Olsen Park is a joint City/County project funded by the Parks and Greenspace Bond. However, Shipman emphasized that the County’s participation does not lessen the obligations imposed upon the City by the provisions of the purchase agreement. “We don’t intend to get in the middle of the inevitable finger pointing that seems to go on between the City and the County; our agreement is with the City, and that’s who we intend to hold accountable,” Shipman said.

The City has recently announced plans to place a bond referendum on the ballot in November to fund a $37 million baseball stadium in the City, and Shipman said that this was particularly disturbing to his client. “We think that the City needs to fund and complete its current obligations before embarking on any others, and we’re hopeful that our discussions with the City over the coming weeks will refocus the priorities,” Shipman said.

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