Lawyers mum in Ferrara lawsuit

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WILDWOOD — Neither side wants to talk about a potential lawsuit between the former Urban Enterprise Zone director and Wildwood.
In June, a tort claims notice was filed, indicating a $2 million lawsuit was under consideration against the city. The tort claims notice is part of the process of filing a lawsuit, but so far there is no indication a suit has been filed.

Requests for comment went unanswered by both side’s attorneys, and by Wildwood officials.
Lou Ferrara was fired in May from his position as director of the Urban Enterprise Zone and Wildwood’s redevelopment director.
After his job was terminated, Ferrara threatened a lawsuit against the city for $2 million in damages and alleges that he was fired because he couldn’t keep secrets.
Marc Karavan, who represents the city, and Ferrara’s attorney Kevin Costello did not return phone calls requesting information on the status of the suit by presstime.
According to a tort claims notice filed on June 13, Ferrara said he was called into Commissioner Pete Byron’s office in February and shown “elaborate plans” to build an ice rink on Pacific Avenue and specifically told not to tell Mayor Ernie Troiano.
Byron also went to various boards for approval of the ice rink and commissioned a feasibility study from Triad Associates in Vineland, the claim alleges.
An initial study on the ice rink project was not favorable, Ferrara claims, and Byron allegedly told Triad to alter the report, according to the notice filed.
Byron has repeatedly denied the allegations and said he will be vindicated if the matter ever goes to court.
Michael Zumpino of Triad Associates said in a release from Wildwood issued over the summer that the statement that the initial research regarding the rink was altered was insulting and “challenges Triad Associates 34-year reputation and credibility.”
“Instead it helped guide the project to the next phase of financial feasibility,” Zumpino said of the ice rink study. “Mr. Ferrara’s claims in his tort claims notice about the performance of Triad in this research of the project could not be further from the truth.”
Ferrara also said that he was called into Troiano’s office in January and asked to apologize for comments he allegedly made about the city’s engineer Marc DeBlasio.
Ferrara’s base salary was $108,000 per year plus benefits. He claims that his was wrongfully terminated and the city was in breach of contract.
Ferrara also claimed that he “has suffered damage to his reputation, embarrassment, humiliation, anger and emotional distress.”
Ferrara alleged in the notice that as UEZ director he was under contract with all of the island’s municipalities, therefore Byron did not have the authority to fire him.

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