Suit challenges Randall’s Island concession

Claim alleges that the City improperly skipped land use approvals in Randall’s Island agreement on private school use. Parents of public school students and community residents from East Harlem filed an article 78 petition in Supreme Court on June 14, 2007, seeking to void the City’s approval of a concession agreement between 20 private schools and the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation. The petition asks the court to invalidate the agreement and force the City to restart the approval process, this time following the City’s full land use review process, ULURP.

The City began renovation of Randall’s Island in June 2007. When completed in 2009, the park will feature 67 fields, including 35 for softball/ baseball and 32 for soccer, football and lacrosse. To help fund the $130 million dollar project, the City entered into a concession agreement with 20 area private schools. The concession gives the schools exclusive use of two-thirds of the fields for 20 years during after school hours between 3pm and 6 pm. In exchange, the private schools will pay the City $2.85 million per year, for a total of $52.4 million. The Franchise Concession Review Committee approved the agreement in February 2007, with only Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer voting against the proposal. The six-person committee also included four representatives from the Mayor’s Office and one representative from the City Comptroller.

The article 78 petition claims that the project qualifies as a “major concession” under the City’s Charter and land use review procedures because it encompasses more than 30,000 sq.ft. of park land. Major concessions must go through the full land use review process, including review by the affected community boards, the Planning Commission, and possibly the City Council. The challengers argued that the concession covers 171 acres, or 7.4 million sq.ft., thus far exceeding the threshold of a major concession.

The City has until early August to respond based on an extension granted by petitioners.

District 4 President’s Council v. FCRC, Index No. 108327/2007 (N.Y.Cty.Sup.Ct. June 14, 2007) (Friedman, J.) (Norman Siegel, Alan Klinger, for District 4; Michael Cardozo, for City).

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