Senator John J. Flanagan (2nd Senate District) praised a recent court ruling affirming the state's right to cancel the sale of the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center (KPPC).
The decision on Tuesday by the Appellate Division (Second Department) upheld a 2006 New York State Supreme Court ruling by Justice Elizabeth Hazlitt Emerson. In a unanimous decision, the appeals court agreed with the lower court ruling that the developer Arker Companies and Cherokee Northeast, LLC (Cherokee Arker) had no cause of action and was only entitled to the return of their deposit plus interest as specified in the purchase-and-sale agreement.
Both rulings were based on the clear language of the contract which was entered into by the developer.
The lawsuit by Cherokee Arker was filed by the developer following Senator Flanagan's successful effort to cancel the sale of the property in January of 2006. Cherokee Arker filed the lawsuit to force the sale of the property and reap a financial windfall.
"This is a tremendous victory for the Kings Park community. The courts have clearly ruled in favor of the state and have effectively removed the fear of overdevelopment on this property. Now we can move forward with making this a park for all to enjoy and to protect the people of Kings Park," stated Senator Flanagan. "I am hopeful that this ruling will show Cherokee Arker that the time has come to stop wasting taxpayer money and to move on."
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 proposal, to publicly commit to continuation of tax payments to the Kings Park School District, and to elicit more community input, Cherokee Arker did little to gain credibility or favor with residents, elected officials or civic organizations.
That led to Senator Flanagan's successful effort to have the contract with Cherokee Arker canceled.
This week's decision reinforces the State's position that Cherokee Arker has no legal entitlement to the property. It also enables New York State to move forward with revitalizing the land which is now part of the Nissequogue River State Park following a collaborative effort by Senator Flanagan and the Pataki administration to transfer the property at the end of 2006.
That transfer places the land under the control of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP) and is aimed at protecting the land from future development.
To assist the NYSOPRHP in their future efforts to cleanup the property, Senator Flanagan secured $25 million in state funding to be used for the eventual cleanup of the new parkland. That funding, which was originally approved by Governor Pataki in 2006, has since been reappropriated by Governor Eliot Spitzer twice and is available when the cleanup begins.
Today's decision will complement those two actions and allow the state to move forward with bringing the community's vision to reality. To make sure that the voice of the community continues to be a part of ongoing process, Senator Flanagan has met and communicated repeatedly with New York State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash and various other members of the Spitzer administration regarding the future of the newly expanded public park.
"Working together with the community, we have been able to stop the overdevelopment of this property. I am optimistic, especially in light of this ruling and Governor Spitzer's reappropriation of the $25 million in cleanup funding, that we will soon be taking the next step in creating a park that everyone can enjoy. The people of Kings Park have been waiting a long time and they deserve to see their work rewarded," concluded Senator Flanagan.
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