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SUIT CONTENDS GOLF LINKS DEAL IS GIVEAWAY

A resident who claims plans to lease part of the city golf course is just the latest property give-away hopes a lawsuit will stop the deal.

The city will appear in State Supreme Court Thursday to defend itself against a resident who maintains a lease for Hyde Park was approved without fulfilling the steps required by law.

Frank P. Scaletta, a lifelong city resident, is suing the city to nullify a June 10 agreement made between the municipality and Greater Niagara Sports Group.

Hyde Park, bought with money donated by former resident Charles B. Hyde in 1921, includes a 36-hole golf course. Under the city plan, half that course -- two nine-hole courses called the "Red Nine" and "White Nine" -- will be turned over to the local sports company, which is affiliated with the nonprofit First Tee program.

The city will continue to operate the other 18 holes.

Greater Niagara already manages and operates a former golf dome, recently converted for extreme sports, the outdoor putting range and food operations in the park.

The First Tee program has been running since February at the golf dome.

The company is set to take over the Red Nine on Jan. 1 and the White Nine on Jan. 1, 2006.

After sufficient upgrades are made to the aging courses, a 30-year lease will kick in, giving Greater Niagara control of the land where the clubhouse, outdoor range, practice putting green and dome are located. Future plans include a hotel to be built on the spot where the clubhouse now stands.

City lawyers are expected to deny that the agreement, which they call a "concession agreement," is a lease.

Scaletta's lawsuit, prepared by Niagara Falls attorney Edward Perlman, accuses the city of violating Section 23 of the General City Law of New York, which states a City Council must approve any sale or lease of municipal land by a three-fourths vote.

The golf course agreement was approved by a vote of 3-2, after Mayor Vincenzo V. Anello had introduced it.

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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