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City willing to talk, Paul headed to court

The dust has settled from the sign and fence poles Sunnyside officials removed last Thursday from Tom Paul's property along South First Street.

The dust may have settled on the ground, that is, but there may be a legal dust-up still in the offing.

Sunnyside City Attorney Mark Kunkler said he would like "to explore all options" with Paul in regards to the ongoing sign and boundary dispute.

"We're certainly open to doing that," added Kunkler, who said he would like to meet with both Paul and his attorney, J.J. Sandlin.

When asked if the city has any flexibility on the issue, Kunkler responded, "That's a good question. I'm not really sure at this point how much latitude we could give."

Kunkler continued, "All issues are open for discussion, in my mind."

For Paul, it's case closed.

"It's gone way past that (discussion), you don't go on to a man's property like they did," he said.

Citing a letter from Kunkler, Paul claimed that the city indicated it would first pursue a Superior Court order before pulling down the poles and the sign.

"But he didn't do that," Paul said of Kunkler. "He took the law into his own hands."

Paul said he would have surveyors come out tomorrow, Tuesday, to place offset pins two feet from the pavement.

Paul explained the pins would will represent the city's right-of-way line, which he claims is 15 feet from the middle of the road.

He also continued to take issue with the city's reference to a 1978 survey, which he said shows a 30-foot right-of-way.

"That 30-foot measurement was for offset pins, not a dedicated right-of-way," Paul counters.

He has backed down from his threat to replace what the city took down, noting city officials "will be right back and tear it down again." Paul did claim, however, that city crews left holes measuring two-feet deep that are "in a liability state."

Sunnyside's Public Works Director Jim Bridges said he thought that workers did a good job at the South First Street site. "We'll go take a look at it again," Bridges added.

Though he isn't replacing anything the city removed, the Prosser contractor is not backing down from legal threats against the city.

"My attorney and I are preparing a lot of different legal actions against the city," Paul asserted. The action potentially includes a suit against City Manager Bob Stockwell for defamation of character.

If Paul does take the city to court, Kunkler said the city is still willing to talk, said Paul.

"Even if cases go to litigation, we anticipate we'll be able to maintain discussions."

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