Bush Library Update
Byron Harris reports
UNIVERSITY PARK - Some characterized it as a battle between the wealthy and powerful and the disenfranchised. Others called it a sensational cash grab by a few people out to embarrass a premier educational institution.
But on Friday, the lawsuit over land key to the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the SMU campus was settled.
Gary Vodicka was the remaining holdout in the legal battle. He was the last condo owner at what used to be the University Gardens apartments.
The property, on the edge of the SMU campus, had been in the school's sights for expansion years ago. SMU gradually bought out the condo owners who lived there.
Vodicka claimed the tactics were illegal and took SMU to court with tenacity, where he faced off against an army of university lawyers.
Even George W. Bush - whose presidential library needs property at SMU for a building site - almost got dragged into the legal tiff.
But on Friday morning, Vodicka settled with the university. "With just me left in the case, I guess there was a big push by everybody to get the matter resolved," he said, adding, "a fair settlement was reached."
SMU's attorney in the case said the school is very happy with the settlement that clears the way for the library. He would not disclose the amount of the settlement.
Vodicka would say only that he had a half-million dollars invested the case and did not lose money. He can't discuss the facts of the case, but said that numerous negative comments aimed at the university over the years are all true.
But after four-and-a-half years and hundreds of hours in court, what's left of University Gardens now is destined to be the grounds of the new Bush library.