Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) today joined with Kings Park community leaders in declaring a major victory in a lawsuit regarding the future of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center (KPPC). The lawsuit, which was filed earlier this year by developer Arker Companies and Cherokee Northeast, LLC (Cherokee Arker) and follows Senator Flanagan's successful efforts to cancel the sale of the KPPC site, was dismissed in New York State Supreme Court by Justice Elizabeth Hazlitt Emerson based upon the clear language of the contract.
Cherokee Arker had filed the lawsuit in an effort to force the sale of the property and reap a financial windfall. In a decision released on Friday, Justice Emerson ruled that the developer was entitled solely to the return of their deposit and any interest accrued as specified in the purchase-and-sale agreement. This decision was based on unmistakable language in the agreement entered into by the developer.
"It was clear as soon as this lawsuit was filed that Cherokee Arker's claims were frivolous and without merit and this ruling affirms that fact. The contract clearly spells out the limited relief they are entitled to in plain English and the company must recognize that fact," stated Senator Flanagan. "I hope that the company can be realistic enough to realize that the facts are clearly on the side of the Kings Park community and stops wasting taxpayer money on senseless court battles."
As the third bidder for the property, Cherokee Arker quickly drew criticism from the community after proposing 1,800 units of high density housing for the site. Despite repeated requests by Senator Flanagan to withdraw the 1,800 unit proposal, to publicly commit to continuation of tax payments to the Kings Park School District, and to do more community outreach, Cherokee Arker did little to gain credibility or favor with residents, elected officials or civic organizations. That led to Senator Flanagan's efforts to have the contract with Cherokee Arker canceled back in January.
After the cancellation, Senator Flanagan was able to secure $25 million in state funding for the cleanup of the site to help reduce the cost of cleanup to any entity controlling the property and reduce the need for increased construction. This funding will greatly reduce the need for any future overdevelopment to cover the cost of remediation.
Since that time, Senator Flanagan has continued to meet with civic leaders, State, County and Town officials, planning directors, environmental advocates and residents to explore alternative redevelopment options for the site.
Those discussions have focused on placing control in the hands of local officials and preserving tax payments to the Kings Park School District to protect the taxpayers of the area. This effort has led to a plan that would place a majority of the land in the Nissequoque State Park to protect this valuable revenue stream for the school while preserving the open space of this beautiful parcel of land.
According to this plan, the remainder of the site would then be transferred to the Town of Smithtown to enable local control over its use. This will allow any decision to be made with input from the residents of Kings Park.
"The cancellation of the sale, the securing of cleanup funding and now the denial of this baseless lawsuit make it clear that overdevelopment is no longer an acceptable idea. The residents of Kings Park should be able to have a strong voice in the direction of their community and they must be able to decide their future. We will continue to work together to get the land into the state park system and place control over this site in local hands so that the community, and not some developer, has the final say," stated Senator Flanagan.
CLICK HERE TO READ JUSTICE EMERSON'S DECISION
TO SEND AN E-MAIL TO SENATOR FLANAGAN, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO RECEIVE REGULAR UPDATES FROM SENATOR FLANAGAN, PLEASE CLICK HERE.