Salvation Army sues Indiana children’s museum over expansion

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis has planned a $35 million outdoor sports exhibit that it hopes will become a national model for fitness to help fight childhood obesity.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Salvation Army is suing the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, saying the museum’s $35 million expansion project violates the organization’s rights to property easements.

The lawsuit filed Thursday argues the museum didn’t notify the organization of construction despite knowledge of the easements, and that construction doesn’t provide the organization a clear and safe path to a nearby street. The suit said the organization will be permanently deprived of its property rights if the project is completed.

The Salvation Army said it acquired the easements in a 1993 land swap with the museum.

The museum is building the Riley Children’s Health Legends Sports Experience attraction directly to the north of the museum. The project will wrap around the west and north sides of the Salvation Army’s Indiana headquarters.

The Salvation Army said it’s been in talks with the museum since February but “no meaningful progress has been made.”

“We’re hoping that by going through the courts we can find some resolution to restore our rights,” said Maj. Robert Webster, commander of the Salvation Army’s Indiana division. “(The project) has made it very difficult for us to continue to safely conduct our business at the Salvation Army headquarters.”

The museum released a statement saying Jeffrey Patchen , the museum’s president and CEO, has contacted Salvation Army leadership to try and resolve the issue.

“We have been engaged in discussions with the Salvation Army about this matter for several months, and have been following in good faith a process that the Salvation Army proposed for gathering data before meeting again to discuss a resolution,” the statement read.

The 7.5 acre sports park will include a miniature golf course, baseball field, hockey rink, tennis courts and a pedal-car racetrack. It is scheduled to open in spring of 2018.

The museum is located north of downtown Indianapolis. It’s among the city’s top attractions, drawing more than a million people a year.

 

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