Environmental review challenge dismissed

State Supreme Court ruling allows City to continue the construction of ballfields on Randall’s Island. In July 2006, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation concluded its environmental review and found that constructing 34 new ballfields and reconstructing 31 existing ballfields on Randall’s Island would not significantly impact the environment.

The next month, Parks sent a letter to Manhattan Community Board 11 stating that it would present a funding plan for the ballfield project to the Franchise Concession Review Committee. In January 2007, Parks sent another letter to the Chair of Board 11 notifying him that the FCRC would hold a public hearing to discuss the plan in February 2007. News of the public hearing was also published in the City Record.

Under the plan, the ballfields would be funded through a concession agreement between Parks, the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation, and a group of 20 private schools. The concession gives the schools exclusive use of two-thirds of the ballfields for 20 years between 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. In exchange, the schools will pay Parks $2.85 million per year, for a total of $52.4 million.

After the FCRC approved the plan in February, the Chair of Board 11 joined other petitioners and filed suit against Parks in June 2007. 4 CityLand 112 (Aug. 15, 2007). The petitioners later filed a motion to amend their claim in order to challenge Parks’ environmental review of the project as well. Parks responded by arguing that the environmental review challenge is time-barred because the four-month statute of limitations had already passed.

State Supreme Court Judge Shirley Werner Kornreich agreed with Parks, denying the petitioners’ attempt to challenge Parks’ environmental review. Kornreich noted that the statute of limitations began to run once Parks committed itself to the ballfield project, which occurred as far back as its August 2006 letter to Board 11, which sufficiently spelled out the scope and potential environmental impact of the project.

This is the second lawsuit regarding the ballfield project. In January 2008, the petitioners won their claim that the funding plan for the project qualifies as a “major concession” and, as such, is subject to the City’s land use review process.

District 4 Presidents’ Council v.New York City Franchise and Concession Review Committee, Index No. 108327/07 (N.Y.Cty.Sup.Ct. May 14, 2008) (Kornreich, J.) (Norman Siegel, Alan Klinger, for District 4; Michael A. Cardozo, Susan Shapiro, for City).

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