...... U.. .... La ma Yviease see HIGH COURT, 2A
undation cleared of
After more than four years of le-
gal wrangling, failed mediation, and
courtroom delays, a lawsuit chal-
lenging the management of historic
St.' Augustine properties worth near-
ly $2 million has been settled quietly.
I The settlement in the case against
the St. Augustine Foundation was
filed Tuesday inCircuit Court in St.
Johns County. It clears the founda-
tion:of any mishandling of the seven
St. George Street properties and al-
lows .the foundation to continue to
-The .:settlement does, however,
give control of. the properties to the
State ofFlorida should the St. Ai'giis-
tine Foundation cease-to exist. :...
.The lawsuit was originally filed
by the Historic St. Augustine Preser-
vation Board against the foundation
in 1989. It called into question the
management of 18 historic proper-
ties. One of the matters in dispute
was the foundation's right to sell
many of those properties.
The state Legislature, however,
put the preservation board out of
business in 1990 and re-created it un-
der different rules in 1991. It was
then that the state took over as plain-
tiff in the case against the founda-
That case languished in the courts
until June 1993 when Circuit Court
Judge William Johnson Jr. of Volusia
County ordered the two sides to try
to resolve their differences through a
A one-day mediation session was
held in Jacksonville in July 1993 with
no apparent resolution. But Frank
Stockton of the Florida Department
of State said this morning it was dur-
ing that session that the groundwork
was laid for.the final settlement.
"We came to the settlement after
that mediation, session because the
state felt if we persisted with the
lawsuit, it would be a long, expen-
sive, drawn-out procedure," Stock-
Stockton .added .that the,.settle-
ment points out there is no evidence.
of any.misuse of the property by the
St. Augustine Foundation. And, he
said, eventually the state will take
:over the properties.
"We now-have the assurance that
we will get the property if and when
the.foundation dissolves," he said.
Meanwhile, the agreement spe-
cifically forbids the foundation from
selling any of the remaining historic
Dr. William Proctor, president of
Flagler College, which provides ad-
ministrative support for the Founda-
tion, said this morning nothing really
changes because of the. settlement.
"The Foundation will retain the
property," he said. "We are forbid-
den from mortgaging or selling it,
but we had no intention of doing that,
Proctor said the agreement is a
fair one but that the case should have
been resolved long ago.
"The Foundation is pleased, but
all this harangue was unnecessary.
The settlement states there was no
wrongdoing on the part of the Foun-
dation, which is what we contended
The properties in question, all lo-
cated on St. George Street, include
the Oliveros House, Ortega House,,
Villalonga House, Acosta House,
Santoya House, Hispanic Garden and
Pan American Building.
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