FRIENDSWOOD

Ahead of a Wednesday hearing over a temporary injunction, both sides in a longstanding dispute over some parts of the Lake of Friendswood Park are claiming victory.

“Judge John Ellisor said that if the city can’t produce a written document that authorizes the placement of the structures on Tostado property, then he will probably deny the city’s request for a restraining order,” said Robert Clements Jr., an Alvin attorney representing Joseph Tostado in legal proceedings against the city of Friendswood.

Essentially, Tostado argues he inherited more than 5 acres south of the Lake of Friendswood from his father. But, Tostado contends, the city is using both its own property and his property for a park, and that officials have closed off roads around his land, limiting its usefulness, court records show.

But attorneys for the city disagreed with Clements’ characterization of Wednesday’s hearing, asserting they were close to having the case dismissed.

“The judge has asked us to include in the record the original dedication of the roadway easement from a long time ago,” said Bill Helfand, an attorney representing Friendswood. “Frankly, once we get that, it will probably dispose of the whole case. If he finds a valid easement across the roadway, that pretty much resolves the question of the original lawsuit.”

Attorneys for Friendswood first asked for a temporary injunction in the case shortly after Tostado gave the city until March 16 to address concerns about the parts of the park he argues are built on his land or else he’d remove the facilities himself, according to his attorney.

But Tostado has since taken a less aggressive stance while the lawsuit is pending, Clements said.

“We’ve made clear that even if the injunction is denied, we’re just going to put a fence up around Mr. Tostado’s property,” Clements said. “Then we’re going to go and try the case, and feel we’ll win. Then, we’ll talk to the city about damages.”

The city recently finished a $1 million park project at Lake Friendswood, which voters approved in a 2013 bond election. A 1-mile concrete path and boardwalk surrounds the park with benches, picnic tables and exercise equipment.

Tostado, however, wants the city to remove all the park benches, city signs, concrete sidewalks, a boardwalk, fences, a footbridge and all gates and obstacles obstructing access to Windmere Road and McFarland Drive, Clements wrote to Helfand the Feb. 18 demand letter.

Tostado first filed the lawsuit against the city in January 2018.

Tostado’s relatives in 1993 also went to court with the city of Friendswood over similar claims about land ownership, court records show.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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