A lawsuit filed Tuesday by Two Bears Family Center LLC falls in the lap of Northwest Montana United Way a little more than a year after a Whitefish man filed a different lawsuit against the agency and Westside CCC Inc. for breach of contract and fraud.
Summerfield Baldridge, who established a money-market account as collateral that allowed United Way to complete the $2.4 million purchase the community center in 2015, stated in his lawsuit that his agreement with United Way was set to expire within two years, with return or security interest and interest owing paid to Baldridge.
According to the complaint, United Way had requested Baldridge set up the account with Glacier Bank in the amount of $600,000. The bank would then be allowed to use the account as security for repayment of the loan Westside CCC secured to buy a portion of the former Gateway West Mall. Westside Center for Community Change, known as Westside CCC, was created to hold the asset of the property apart from United Way’s assets.
The lawsuit was later resolved, according to court records. In November 2018, the Daily Inter Lake reported Baldridge agreed that a stipulation for “dismissal with prejudice” would be filed Dec. 7, 2018. Terms of settlement were not disclosed at the time.
The 100,643-square-foot property operates as the Gateway Community Center and serves as a home for more than a dozen nonprofit groups. Volunteers, businesses, business groups and other stakeholders invested more than $1 million in materials and building improvements over the past several years.
Another 60,000-square-foot portion of the building is owned by the Flathead County Economic Development Authority and occupied by TTEC, formerly known as TeleTech. It operates separately, though it relies on the Gateway Community Center for common-area maintenance, including walkways, the parking lot and building interior.
Over the past year, questions have arisen from citizens about United Way’s ability to invest in building and parking-lot improvements.