The City of Roy and the Roy Pioneer Rodeo Association are in a court dispute over long-standing lease terms for land just outside the city.
The rodeo association contends the city violated contract terms when it declined to renegotiate a new lease rate by a July 1, 2013, renewal deadline, despite “promising” the association in 2012 that it would do so.
The city says the lawsuit is frivolous and that the rodeo association failed to negotiate in good faith.
The two parties originally signed the lease agreement in August 1983. It included a provision that the rate be updated every five years.
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The Roy Pioneer Rodeo is a tradition in the southern Pierce County city of about 800, dating back to the 1950s. The city’s population swells during the two weekends each year that the rodeo takes over nearly 17 acres just outside the city.
This year the rodeo is scheduled for June 6-7 and Sept. 5-6. There is no indication that the dispute will threaten those dates.
Roy leases a portion of the rodeo’s land for its public water system. One of the city’s two wells and an aeration tower are on the property. The city owns water rights in the Nisqually River basin aquifer, according to court documents.
As part of the lease agreement, the rodeo association was given permission to use the water on the site and the land for events.
Mayor Karen Yates said she couldn’t comment on the dispute because of the pending litigation, but she noted that mediation was requested. Representatives and attorneys for the rodeo association did not respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit, filed in November, seeks to compel the city to arbitrate so both parties can agree on a new lease rate. It also seeks an undisclosed amount of money for damages and attorney fees.
The rodeo association says it demanded arbitration in July but received no response from the city.
The complaint also states the city demanded that the association give Roy its land free of charge, submit to annexation into the city and drop its renegotiation efforts.
In its response to the complaint, Roy says it declined the most recent lease rate proposed by the rodeo association. The city offered to pay a rate of $1,166 per year, according to its response; the rodeo association asked for $5,000, the city said.
The city also denied that the lease-rate renewal date was set for July 2013. Its response states the next deadline is January 2017, adding that the city intended to arbitrate with the rodeo association per the lease terms.
“Roy most emphatically was willing to abide by that provision,” the response states. “Further, Roy has expressed its willingness to arbitrate outside the lease parameters despite the failure of the rodeo association to make a timely demand, subject to terms designed to save both parties time and money.”
The city also denies it “interspersed its negotiations” with demands for the rodeo association to give up land or annex into the city. It says it merely pointed out the potential financial benefits of such a move.
The 50-year lease between the rodeo association and the city expires in 2033.