After two and a half years of legal battling, the Storm Lake City Council took about two and a half minutes to declare an end to the dispute over the Kolb Memorial Gardens.
The council voted unanimously Monday evening to accept a proposed $22,500 settlement representing legal expenses that the late Norman Kolb had reportedly paid out of the trust account intended to maintain the gardens as a perpetual Storm Lake landmark.
Kolb had sued the city in 2005 over the city's planned destruction of the gardens and fountain to make way for the development at King's Pointe. Legal actions back and forth between Kolb and the city fought for control and future revenue from the farmland that had been set aside 40 years ago to fund the gardens, with the city prevailing in court. It is the legal fees over the revenue that the city called into question.
The settlement returning the funds to the trust was the final step in the litigation.
Mayor Jon Kruse sought to put the dispute behind the city and turn attention to the re-establishment of the gardens and fountain as part of the Project AWAYSIS Great Lawn.
"The Kolb Gardens have been an important part of our community for many years," he said after the agreement - noting that it probably would not have been removed is it wasn't necessary for the AWAYSIS development to move forward.
"The outcome, in my opinion, is what was right for this community," Kruse said.
The mayor said it has been "unfortunate" that the legal battling has drug on for years.
"It's good to finally have closure on it... and we will again have the Kolb Gardens to enjoy in Storm Lake for many years to come."
Design work on the new gardens and fountain are being completed and are about to go out for bids. Construction is likely in May.
As before, the new site is dedicated to Robert J. Kolb, who was killed in a 1966 hunting accident while a high-school senior. Kolb's grandfather, Henry P. Kolb, established the trust in 1968.