The long-running Club Palmerston saga appears to be over after an eleventh-hour settlement between the warring factions meant a two-week court hearing was avoided.
Squash Gym Palmerston North and the Palmerston North Bowling and Cosmopolitan Clubs all use the same Linton St complex, and were supposed to have merged as far back as 2005.
But the merger never happened and a clear divide formed between the Cosmopolitan Club on one side and the sports clubs on the other as disputes about land and loans escalated.
Two years ago each side filed court claims and, after rounds of failed mediation, legal proceedings were to begin in the High Court at Wellington this week.
But an agreement has now been signed, details of which are expected to become clearer next week.
"Squash and bowls have provisionally settled with the Cossie," Cosmopolitan spokesman David Townend said. He was unable to say anything more until after a meeting with club members tomorrow, where it's expected they'll give the settlement the OK.
Squash Gym president Lindsay Petterson and bowling club president Steve Toms said in a statement the matter had "finally been resolved".
"While the lawyers, on instruction from both sides, were able to agree on a number of points that would comprise a settlement, it is fair to say that neither side gets all that they wanted out of the settlement deal. However, a common point of agreement is that the other option of going to court to settle the differences between us might well have produced an even less-acceptable solution."
The agreement was presented to the High Court at Wellington and signed by the parties' lawyers.
"The agreement as reached is legally binding on all parties notwithstanding that the further consent of a number of third parties - primarily banks and the Palmerston North City Council - is still required," Mr Petterson and Mr Toms said. "The dispute has been an unwanted distraction to each club over recent years and had to be brought to a head."
They said there were no "winners or losers" in the deal, which was "commercially sensible" and in the best interests of the clubs.
Ray Ditchfield, a member of all three clubs, said he was pleased the court hearing was avoided but still annoyed at how long it took the clubs to settle. He formed a "concerned members group" to voice disapproval with the costly stoush.
"We're thrilled from a cost-saving point of view. I truly believe that we've been that close for a long time and a couple of the parties held back. I'm just bamboozled that earlier offers weren't accepted."
The three clubs have about 2500 members.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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