September 1, 2014

Elyria
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New lawsuit over lights dims chances for Ridgeville night play

ELYRIA — As if its battle with a neighboring drive-in movie theater over lighting issues isn’t enough, Ohio Sports Park developer Larry Vassil now finds himself under attack from another quarter over those same lights.

On Friday, Vassil and OSP were named in a lawsuit filed by an Eastlake company that alleges it has yet to be paid nearly $540,000 for products including light poles, fixtures, lamps and other electrical products and equipment sold to the North Ridgeville complex.

The suit alleges breach of contract, claiming Vassil has failed to pay $539,809 to Professional Electric Products Co., also known as PEPCO, which supplied lights, poles and other items for the sports park’s eight baseball-softball and soccer fields.

Filed by Thomas J. Tarantino, an attorney with the Cleveland law firm of Climaco, Lefkowitz, Peca, Wilcox & Garofoli Co., the suit also alleges that Vassil, of Richfield, personally guaranteed that he’d pay the lighting bill if Ohio Sports Park ended up in financial trouble.

Vassil, who was not reached for comment Friday, has stated in the past that he spent some $750,000 to buy and install nearly 50 lights atop 70-foot poles lights at the 67-acre, $3.6 million complex. He also said he personally invested $1.6 million in the project.

In an affidavit seeking a mechanics’ lien against the sports complex, PEPCO’s Director of Finance Donald D. Haines stated the firm delivered products and performed installation work at Ohio Sports Park between March 16 and April 30.

Calls to Tarantino’s offices were not answered. PEPCO officials also were unavailable Friday.

The suit also seeks compensatory damages of at least $25,000.

Tarantino is requesting a jury trial before Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Edward Zaleski, the judge who has been presiding in the summer-long dispute between Ohio Sports Park and Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-In.

The owners of the drive-in allege that lights from the sports park’s ballfields have caused glare or shadows on its two movie screens. The two businesses, whose boundaries are about 1,500 feet apart, are separated by the Ohio Turnpike.

Vassil has worked over the summer to comply with court orders to shield and/or re-aim lights to reduce or eliminate problems for the drive-in. An amended July 24 court order issued by Zaleski prevents Vassil from using lights on one ballfield, while barring the lighting of all three soccer fields. Both sides in the dispute are slated to return to court in October.

Vassil contends the lighting squabble has cost him thousands of dollars in lost revenue after tournament sponsors moved events elsewhere when assurances could not be given that all games would be completed by 10 p.m.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.