- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The former owner of the Heartland Park Topeka racetrack is suing the city of Topeka for more than $4 million, alleging the city breached an agreement to purchase the park and assume the plaintiff’s debt.

The lawsuit, filed in Shawnee County District Court, also claims the city billed the owner for storm water utility services for more than 12 years but never provided the service, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (https://bit.ly/288dWec ).

The city agreed in June 2014 to acquire Jayhawk’s interest in Heartland Park and agreed to expand the park’s STAR bond district. The contract stipulated that the city must make “good faith reasonable efforts” to issue STAR Bonds and purchase the park for an estimated $4.8 million to $5.5 million. Attorney Wesley Weathers said in the petition that the city stopped trying to buy the park months before CoreFirst Bank and Trust filed deeds for the track property in August 2015.

The city of Topeka issued a $10.4 million STAR bond for park improvements in 2006. The bonds are intended to fund projects by borrowing from anticipated sales tax revenue, but that revenue was not enough to pay off the bonds. The city was forced to use general revenue bonds for the payments, spending up to $5.6 million since 2006.

The lawsuit alleges the contract was first breached when the city decided in December 2014 to defer issuing STAR bonds until after the first of the year after a petition was filed to put the racetrack’s funding up for a public vote. The city continued to assure Jayhawk Racing that it intended to eventually purchase the park, according to the lawsuit.

But in May 2015, city officials defeated a plan to finance the purchase with $5.5 million in STAR bonds, forcing Jayhawk Racing to forfeit the land, the lawsuit claims.

City attorney Lisa Robertson said the city would not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

Chris Payne and Todd Crossley and their company, Shelby LLC, became owners of the track in December 2015.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, https://www.cjonline.com

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