City Moves to Settle Equestrian Center Suit

In an effort to settle a lawsuit, the city has amended the concession agreement with a longtime vendor at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, stating that it will extend a lease with him to 30 years if the Army Corps of Engineers extends the city's lease for the property.

The City Council made official a tentative agreement it had reached in October with equestrian center operator Eddie Milligan.

But Milligan, who has maintained the center on a year-to-year basis since 1989, said the move was too little, too late.

"I'm sick and tired of fighting these people," he said. "I'm tired of being abused. . . . They should have done this a long time ago."

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled at 8:30 this morning in Department 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court. City officials said they were unable to meet the conditions of the original agreement eight years ago because they didn't have 30 years to give.

The city was able to offer an agreement for 21 years and had hoped Milligan would take it.

"The city's position is yes, we'd like to give him 30 years, but we didn't have the authority," said Councilman Richard Alarcon. "He's a good operator . . . [and] it's a good project. We'd like to keep it.

"We're trying to accommodate him," he added.

Milligan suggested Wednesday that he may soon pull out of the center altogether.

"I thought the city and I would make a very unique and good partnership to improve this basin here, but obviously I was mistaken," he said.

Marcia Kamine, assistant city attorney, said she was aware of Milligan's stance on the issue and that he has filed a motion in Superior Court to pull out of the tentative agreement.

She said, however, that the city went through with the amendment because it had an obligation to do so.

After taking possession of the center, Milligan made approximately $3 million in improvements. The suit, filed in 1996, seeks $18 million in damages from the city.

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