The rec center has been under consideration for about a decade. The plans call for a large, four-basketball court gymnasium with a walking track and a multi-purpose room, to be built at the Southside Recreation Fields. Outside, a spray park will be maintained and existing playground equipment will be relocated and added to. Some of the playing fields will be retained.
Bast-Hatfield has been responsible for other high-profile projects in the city, including the YMCA building, the train station and upgrades to city schools.
Resident Anne Bullock told the council it would be irresponsible to award a contract considering the lawsuit brought forth by her Friends of the South Side Park group that seeks to halt the project.
"What kind of lawyer, knowing his client is going to be sued, advises his client to enter into that contract?" she asked before the vote.
Johnson said that he was not concerned with the suit.
"This group that filed the suit against the city did not seek an injunction on this project," he said, which if granted would immediately halt progress. "To get an injunction, you must establish a likelihood of successit gives some indication of the strength, or the weakness, perhaps, of the suit at hand."
Accounts Department Commissioner John Franck agreed and said the council should follow the advice of the city's attorneys. "If we stop every project and everything we do because of a lawsuit, nothing will ever get done in this city," he said.
"This is a disaster for the city to enter," countered Kim. "My guess is if approve this contract tonight, they're going to try to stop the shovels."
Groundbreaking will take place once the weather allows it.