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EHS Press Release: Lawsuit Dropped

Lawsuit Against Edgewater Historical Society Dropped

On Monday, August 23, 2010, the Plaintiff in the lawsuit against the Edgewater Historical Society withdrew the litigation that had accused EHS and four board members of interfering with the sale of a home (at 6018 N. Kenmore Ave.) a property that had been “orange” rated by the City of Chicago, and which EHS believes to be historically and architecturally significant. [Brigitta Riedel, Trustee of the Walter and Maria Kramer Living Trust, dated April, 1990 v. Edgewater Historical Society et. al., case number 08 L 10297, filed September 2008] The plaintiff initially sought $ 1.1 million in damages.

In a statement released today, Edgewater Historical Society (EHS) President Robert Remer said, “We are relieved this suit has been dismissed after two long years. We have always believed that EHS and the individual Defendants did no wrong. We are confident that had the suit proceeded further, EHS would have prevailed, and collected attorneys’ fees under the Citizens’ Participation Act.”

Initially, because of its historical and architectural significance of the Kenmore property, EHS and the Defendants voiced concern regarding its proposed demolition. Thereafter, the Edgewater community also engaged in a public debate regarding a landmark district proposal that was drafted by City of Chicago Landmarks staff. The Kenmore property was part of that proposed district.

Remer further said, “Edgewater is proud to have three Federal Historic Districts and several buildings designated as either Federal or local landmarks or historic sites. EHS supported, but did not initiate, this particular landmark district proposal, which was subject to the community process implemented by the Alderman of the 48th Ward, where community decision making on land use issues has been practiced for over 30 years.

“We are extremely grateful to the indispensable and generous support of our pro-bono attorneys at Seyfarth Shaw, LLP (including David Christian, William Goldberg, Erin Dougherty Foley, Ryan Pinkston, and Danielle Bochneak) and previously from Neal & Leroy (in particular Richard Friedman). Their unfailing support carried EHS and the four Defendants through two difficult and threatening years.

“EHS also owes a debt of gratitude to LeRoy Blommaert, Kathy Gemperle, Thom Greene, and Betty Mayian. They have been pillars of the community for 40 years and have made significant contributions to Edgewater both as founding board members of EHS, and in many other Edgewater leadership positions over the years. They should be commended for enduring this painful ordeal on behalf of EHS. They have always carried themselves with dignity, pride, and with a continued commitment to the Edgewater community.

“Despite the incredibly generous support of our pro-bono attorneys, EHS still faced considerable expense relative to our budget. The lawsuit also drained innumerable hours of valuable time of our leadership – resources and time that could otherwise have been devoted to the community, our museum, our educational programs, and our historic collections.

“EHS has always played a central role in providing research and educational resources for the community to help it understand the neighborhood’s history through its buildings, and to help the community make informed decisions related to preservation matters. With the lawsuit behind us, we reaffirm our commitment to the Edgewater community and will continue to support efforts to save important and historic structures.”

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