According to recent coffee shop talk in the Iowa Great Lakes area, Cary Parker, former general manager for the Maritime Museum and the amuseument park at Arnolds Park, has filed a lawsuit against the organization.
But Parker and members of the museum board say the rumors are not true.
"I have not filed a lawsuit, but rather a claim with the board's insurance company," Parker said this week. "I've made a claim against members and former members of the board for intentional interference with my employee relationship and defamation."
At an Oct. 10 board meeting, Parker resigned his position as the general manager of the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum, which operates the Green Space, Maritime Museum, Queen II excursion boat and the amusement park that has a 115-year history in the area. Parker's resignation was effective Dec. 1.
Parker said he opened conversations with legal counsel in August, but was reluctant to bring the matter into the public eye.
"I did everything I could to try to keep this as low key as possible," Parker said.
According to a Nov. 3 letter, from Parker's Sioux City attorney to the board's insurance company, Parker chose to directly contact the insurance company to avoid a lengthy lawsuit process and to save face for the museum.
"Mr. Parker has chosen to present his claim to your company rather than immediately commencing suit against the offending members in an effort to spare the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum negative publicity," says the letter.
The letter also clarifies another key error in the recent rumors.
"We want to be clear that Mr. Parker's claims are against individual members and former members of the Board of Directors in their capacities as board members, not the entity itself."
The letter goes on to list the names of nearly a dozen past and present board members who Parker feels interfered and defamed him during his time as the entity's general manager. In his claim, Parker requests a financial settlement.
The Maritime Museum Board formally considered Parker's legal claims during a closed meeting Friday.
The board issued a formal statement following Friday's meeting. "The board has retained legal counsel and intends to vigorously defend against the claims," the statement said. "The board does not expect Parker's claim to place the amusement park at risk, and no donated funds will be used in defense of the claims."
The Maritime Museum Board also set up a fund-raising meeting for Jan. 28 that will focus on how to pay down the museum board's $1.7 million debt. At that time, the board will address the financial dilemma and work to develop a feasible plan of debt repayment. A report will be made to the full board and public at the Feb. 6 meeting.
The board also reviewed a new marketing plan for the amusement park, Queen II, and museum, and unanimously approved a master plan for a new environmentally friendly parking area at Arnolds Park with ecological and educational features. Cost is $700,000.
Some construction may take place this spring, but the majority of the work is planned for fall.