Point Ruston Threatens City of Ruston with $150 Million Lawsuit

The developers of Point Ruston are suing the City of Ruston. For a lot of money.

The News Tribune reported on Friday that Point Ruston LLC has given the small town warning that it intends to sue for what it calls "environmental malfeasance," and will be seeking damages totalling more than $150 million.

According to a legal claim posted on Ruston Home last Thursday, Point Ruston's developer point to their partnership with the City of Tacoma to rebuild roads and other infrastructures, and the State of Washington's investments in environmental cleanup. Meanwhile, the developer says, Ruston has done the opposite - hindering cleanup and even causing the spread of contaminants. 

It sounds like Ruston was supposed to do some cleanup of contamination related to the Asarco superfund site, including excavation and disposal of contaminated soil and marine sediment, capping of remaining contamination, removal and replacement of stormwater drainage and other infrastructure, and other ongoing remediation and monitoring. The cost of all that work was estimated to be over $50 million. Point Ruston is suing for three times that amount, under Washington's Model Toxics Control Act. The $150 million is meant to cover money already spent, as well as future cleanup costs.

According to the TNT, the two parties have been in talks for almost a year, and Point Ruston says they've proposed a mediation process, which Ruston has not responded to. Apparently the developer has even moved the multiplex theater currently under construction from the Ruston side of the project, to the Tacoma side, to ensure it can open on time.

Among its specific claims against the City of Ruston, Point Ruston says the City has not adequately addressed contamination carried by wind and stormwater from Ruston to the development, including failure to deal with a wastewater pipe running under the development, and a failure to seal the former Ruston Way tunnel after the rerouting of the road.

Now we'll be honest, we haven't seen the City of Ruston budget for 2014, but we're guessing this is not something they can pay out of the petty cash fund. 

Download the full legal claim document here.

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Yikes.  Ruston’s loss is Tacoma’s gain here.

“Apparently the developer has even moved the multiplex theater currently under construction from the Ruston side of the project, to the Tacoma side, to ensure it can open on time.”

If this lawsuit proceeds would Ruston be able to handle the hit or would they be forced into bankruptcy?

August 18, 2014 at 11:36 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Ruston will make for a nice City of Tacoma neighborhood, and I’m guessing sooner rather than later.

August 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Let’s all try to think this through. For starters, let’s assume that the City of Ruston can’t easily call a bank or a hard money lender and set up a line of credit. Yet, the City of Ruston has options. The former Ruston Way tunnel may be a potential asset.

When I read that the developer of Point Ruston has moved the site of an economic generator, a multiplex theatre from Ruston to Tacoma, the thought came to mind that maybe Tacoma could also gain by relocating the Ruston Way tunnel to the same Point Ruston site. What, you may ask, is the value of an under-utilized tunnel? Well, what is the value of a multiplex theatre, if not a place for diversion?

We know that many Tacoman’s desire and want diversion. There are scores of industries that cater to such Tacoman’s. Likewise, within Tacoma itself, there a scores of individuals who promote and profit from the acceptance of degenerative forms of diversion. One such case, within recent memory, is the controversial Broadway Garages, aka Graffiti Garages, which are no more. 

So now, in view of the City of Ruston’s financial crisis, I ask that we Tacoman’s not waste this moment. What Tacoma longs for, and lacks, is a substitute for the Graffiti Garages. The Ruston Way tunnel, call it Ruston’s trash, has the potential to become Point Ruston’s treasure.

August 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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$150 Million divided by Ruston’s population of 767 = $195,000 per resident.  I don’t think they can afford this, or the $50 million they apparently agreed to initially.

If the new residential development adds thousands of wealthy residents and retail to Ruston’s tax base, maybe over a long period of time they can afford this?

August 18, 2014 at 2:40 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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I wholeheartedly agree.  Effectively a lawsuit of this size and the legal retainer to even fight it could bring Ruston to its knees. 

I’m all for local control, but at the point where you can no longer deliver essential responsibilities of health, well-being, and safety to your citizens, you shouldn’t be a municipality anymore.  I forsee a similar incident that occurred with the City of Pacific that had its insurance cancelled and on the verge of being unincorporated over 12 million dollars of lawsuits from incompetence.  $150 million would put each of Ruston’s 749 residents just shy over $200,000 per person as a tax burden.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Ruston’s insurance is cancelled at the end of this year.

Does the City of Tacoma have any comment from this as well as a party to the lawsuit?  I’m sure it is costing Tacoma more to deal with Ruston’s airborne malfeasance for the portions in which our City is cleaning up.

August 18, 2014 at 2:51 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Wait.  Ruston is a city?  Who knew?!

August 18, 2014 at 5:06 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Effectively they have their own government and changed from Town to City in 2012 I think.  I don’t understand how they have the tax base to even exist.

August 18, 2014 at 10:31 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Tacoma can’t even take care of Tacoma citizens and neighborhoods, why would it want to acquire more responsibility.  If Tacoma absorbs Ruston, it will be the beginning of their decline.

August 19, 2014 at 9:36 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Some would argue that Tacoma should be broken up into smaller jurisdictions, not expanded through the annexation of more area.  I tend to agree, the sole area of City government in Tacoma that serves the public in such a way as to add value to the community at large is TPU. 

Why would Tacoma want to absorb Ruston?  Easy question to answer - in order to suck revenues out of more neighborhoods in order to fund ever more graft and corruption.

August 24, 2014 at 3:06 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Having put most businesses in the Town out of business, including their largest taxpayer they are living on the proceeds of a land sale and grants.  When the property fund reaches zero they are goners and their long term goal of becoming a “bedroom community” will be fulfilled.

April 22, 2015 at 4:29 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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June 2, 2018 at 7:06 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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