Judge could decide Palace issue Wednesday
The Friends of Superior Inc. wants to know if Mayor Dave Ross broke the law when he ordered the demolition of the Palace Theater. The city just wants to put an ongoing federal lawsuit over the historic vaudeville and movie house behind it. After ...
The Friends of Superior Inc. wants to know if Mayor Dave Ross broke the law when he ordered the demolition of the Palace Theater. The city just wants to put an ongoing federal lawsuit over the historic vaudeville and movie house behind it. After all, Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Michael Lucci previously denied a similar restraining order request.
U.S. District Court Judge John C. Shabaz will decide Wednesday whether to hear a federal lawsuit against the city or simply dismiss the matter because the theater no longer exists.
The Friends of Superior amended its original complaint, which sought to halt demolition of the theater until obligations of the National Historic Preservation Act were met. Now the group of about 22 members is seeking "declaratory relief" from the federal magistrate to determine if the city's demolition actions "were consistent with applicable law."
Friends of Superior members say the amended complaint is "implicit in the initial complaint," according to a Dec. 9 motion filed by Kris Fisher, president. The motion was filed in objection to the city's Nov. 20 request for dismissal.
"The Friends of Superior Inc. brings this action seeking declaratory relief against the City of Superior for failing to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act ... prior to demolishing the historic Palace Theater."
The complaint alleges the city failed to give the state and federal historic preservation organizations time to comment on the city's determination to demolish the long-vacant theater. That allegation stems from a complaint lodged with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Milwaukee by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Elizabeth Merritt, general counsel for the federal agency, objected to the release of Community Development Block Grant money for the purchase of two bars north of the theater because a historic review process had not been completed for the neighboring theater. Merritt said the city failed to take into account the entire project area.
The theater, constructed in 1915 and 1916, was designed by C.W. and George Rapp, prominent theater architects at the time. The Palace was one of 35 remaining Rapp-designed theaters in the nation. The brothers were credited with designing 89 theaters, most in the Midwest.
The group accuses Ross of ordering "the immediate and swift demolition of the Palace Theater" demonstrating "indirect contempt of court" after learning on Nov. 1 the Friends of Superior had initiated an injunction motion in federal court.
Demolition started that afternoon, after city officials learned Fisher sought to stay the city's hand. Demolition had been delayed twice, and plans were to begin demolition Nov. 3, the day the city was served with a summons in the current case.
Fisher accuses Ross of violating federal regulations and usurping the city council's authority under state law by ordering the demolition.
Shabaz will consider the motions at 9 a.m. Wednesday during a teleconference hearing.
Shelley Nelson covers Superior/Douglas County. Call (715) 394-4421, ext. 134 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .