Galli-Curci boundary dispute settled after long legal battle

By Brian Sweeney
A legal dispute that stalled plans for the redevelopment of the Galli-Curci Theater in Margaretville for two-and-a-half years was settled out of court on Monday. Margaretville business owner David Budin had originally filed the lawsuit in Delaware County Court claiming he owned, through “adverse possession” a section of the theater property that would be utilized for the renovations. The theater property borders the parcel where Budin lives and the storefront where he operates Del-Sports.
Budin had planted 17 blue spruce trees on the border of the property nearly 20 years ago. His court filing said the fact that he had cared for these trees entitled him to ownership of a strip of land that originally belonged to the theater property. Mr. Budin said his intention was to protect the trees that he had grown.
When former Galli-Curci owner Jack Goth said in preliminary court filings that he had given Budin permission to plant the trees, Budin dropped the adverse possession case and claimed in a subsequent suit that the trees were his as a result of “permissive use” of the property.
Monday’s settlement, reached immediately before the case was to proceed to a jury trial, states that the section of land in dispute will remain the property of the theater owners, David France and Jonathan Starch.
Also as part of the settlement, Budin received an easement to continue taking care of the trees, which are about 13 feet tall.
The defendants will receive an easement to the water pipes for the theater that run through Budin’s backyard. This will allow for the expansion to a four-inch pipe that would be necessary if the theater project is pursued. The settlement also requires that Budin will remove debris that he has piled behind the theater building.
Budin said this attorney, Jim Hartmann from Delhi, suggested the settlement.
“We swapped one easement for another. You could say we all won,” Budin stated.
France said that he and Starch are also pleased with the outcome.
“We tried for two and a half years to negotiate an end to this case and were pleased when Budin suddenly agreed on the brink of trial. With this advantageous resolution, we are now free to go back to the drawing board and determine future plans for the building,” commented France.
He added, “Jonathan and I are humbled by the huge outpouring of support the community has shown us throughout this ordeal.”
France said with today’s economic climate, he and Starch will take some time to assess their plans for the historic building.
They originally had planned to transform the 8,000-square-foot theater into three smaller theaters that would feature a variety of films.