EAST LIVERPOOL - The Thompson Park Board agreed Friday to have a company enter negotiations for a gas/oil lease for about 140 acres of park property.
With board member Betsy Wells absent, and President Burl Warrick abstaining, members Wink Smith and Samantha Kinemond agreed to have the Association of Independent Lawyers for Land Owners (AILLO) negotiate for the board. Warrick explained he was abstaining since he and his brother have also signed a letter of intent with the same group to negotiate a lease on property they own.
The AILLO group is composed of several area attorneys: City Law Director Charles Payne, David Tobin (retired Common Pleas Court judge), Fred E. Emmerling, Timothy Brookes, Joseph Ludovici and Nicholas Amato.
Warrick said the board checked with another group but decided there were advantages to contracting with AILLO, primarily the lack of a fee. He said, also, the park property will be included with other properties to allow the AILLO group more acreage with which to negotiate.
Payne has met at times in executive session with the park board to discuss potential gas/oil leases, and Warrick was asked whether Payne serving as city law director, representing the board, poses a conflict of interest since he is also a member of the AILLO group.
Warrick said that a conflict would have existed had the park board been assessed a fee like other clients but that is why no fee will be charged.
"If we don't like it, we don't have to go with it," Warrick said of any lease agreement negotiated by AILLO for the board, pointing out the board has been following Payne's advice for almost two years in regard to leasing issues.
Not among the acreage to be included in the lease will be 20 acres on which an existing 80-year-old gas well already exists, owned by Northside Wildcat Gas & Oil Company.
The well does not produce much, according to Warrick and Smith.