Wrangling-over-road controversy heats up
By Rebekah LaSala
SPECIAL TO THE HIGHLINE TIMES
In a shocking and stunning development of what has been a “wrangling for the road” with Brett Fish bringing to light the actions of the Southwest Suburban Sewer District that point to being nothing short of a flagrant abuse of the easement road, the sewer district and Ron Hall, the general manager, decided to call the police on Brett Fish on May 16th and on May 20th for defending his use of his upper gate, which was only originally supposed to be used between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., as per the notice taped to one of the upper gates.
On both days, the Normandy Park police came, with Hall being at the forefront of locking and gaining control of the upper gate. In what can now be called a “wrangling for the gate” Fish continues to equate the district’s recent actions of the gate and abuse of the easement road (and the dumping of bad clay on his property causing his house to slide) to be like an abused child who no longer makes noise, but keeps being abused.
Fish states, “By early 1987, they abused the road so badly that my dad had them install an upper gate on our property with access conditions M-F, 8-4 p.m.”. This mitigation is in addition to landscaping, rhododendrons, photinia and other trees to replace the 150 or so trees and natural woods they destroyed putting this road through.”
Brett Fish’s battle with the sewer district stems from a 1987 contract in which his father had them install an upper gate on the property with access conditions. His father, Byron Fish, who was a much loved Normandy Park based writer, had indicated to both him and his brother that their abuse of the road made him physically ill and plagued him deeply for years before his death.
On May 16th, Fish made the decision to close the gate, but specifically made a point not to lock it, so that each vehicle would have to get out and open the unlocked gates. Fish wanted to make the point he was tired of the continued abuse, but did not want to lock the gate. After the passage of each car, (40 to 50 personal district vehicles, sometimes more a day), Fish would then close the gate.
The district quickly retaliated, installing a cable and a padlock assembly around each gate to basically lock them open and keep them open. Then, district employees installed a cable with u-bolts to make a strap with at each end where there was a padlock.
Fish said, “That blew me away so I unfastened the u-bolts thus releasing the gates and closed them back up without locking them. In the process of undoing their contraptions, I cut 2 three inch pieces of shrink wrap to gain access to the nuts on one side of each cable lock assembly.”
Then, in an e-mail dated May 17th Fish wrote, “Please instruct your employees to immediately remove the chain locks on the gate posts that were installed this morning Friday, May 17th or they will be removed shortly.
These gate post locks and chains clearly signal the districts intent to continue use of the compost access easement for general district business. It will not be tolerated.”
At 9:17 a.m., Hall responded saying, “The district will continue to follow the January, 2013 agreement that you signed. Any attempt to damage or destroy district property will give no other choice but to call the police and press charges. The gate will be closed at the end of the work day.”
Hall then had the police called for “destruction of property” and when Normandy Park police arrived, Fish explained that the only thing that got damaged was the shrink wrap, worth a dollar. Fish stated he had simply unassembled the contraption the district had put up and left in on the ground.
According to Fish, once the plant employees found out, they asked the police to go after Fish for “destruction of district property”. Fish refused the offer of Hall to stop closing the gate.
Fish states,” I refused the offer because that would give the district implied permission to continue abusing their restricted easement. The locks stayed in place.”
On Friday, the district responded to Fish’s action with replacing the cable with a heavy duty chain and then installed locks to force the gate to be open. Fish asked them to remove the locks or they would be removed.
On Monday, May 20th, feeling that he had no other choice, Fish physically blocked the complete opening of one side of the gates so they could not install the chain and padlocks, to which the district responded by getting two chains and locking the gate in the other direction so it could remain locked down. Two Normandy Park police officers arrived, along with Hall and another district employee.
Fish has followed police instructions to not cut off the locks. The gates continue to be locked and chained by the district.
The original 1987 “mitigation” agreement included an agreement to landscape the area. Since Fish says they are so interested in the gate, then why would they not pay attention to the natural woods and plants that are dying due to the bad soil that has been piled up on his property?
Fish says threats of “condemnation” ensued for the past 25 years, in person to his father, Byron Fish, by district bullies, to him at public meetings, or in recent e-mails, if they did not agree to their idea of dumping the bad, unenvironmentally sound clay/shale dirt and landscaping on the property. This clay has been dragging Fish’s house and land down since 2003.
Fish states, “They have their own original entrance. Most of their daily traffic, about 55-65 percent are small nimble vehicles like their Taurus, Prius, small Ford x-cab pick-up trucks, an expensive SUV that can easily use their own original entrance. All of this unpermitted traffic through my yard grossly diminishes the value of my property, all severely impacted by their refusal to straighten out and play nice.”
Fish, who says he is drained of financial resources due to house damages, and cannot afford his own attorney.