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JUDGE TO RULE ON SUIT OVER OPERATION OF HYDE PARK COURSE

City officials are at odds over how to operate the city's Hyde Park Golf Course, but the question will be argued in front of a judge this week, when a group of resident golfers seeks to renew a lawsuit it lost in January.

This time, though, the golfers have the support of a foursome of City Council members.

The four say they want out of the management agreement approved last summer now that a judge has thrown out the final phase of that plan.

"It's not the same agreement we approved last year," Council Chairman Charles A. Walker said at a recent Council meeting.

The agreement gave a private developer rights to run part of the course, the former golf dome and outdoor putting range in exchange for improvements and developer's fees.

State Supreme Court Justice Vincent E. Doyle upheld most of the agreement with Greater Niagara Sports Group but ruled that the agreement was a lease, as resident Frank Scaletta's lawsuit claimed.

The judge also struck a phase of the plan that would have allowed the developers to build a hotel on parkland if they fulfilled requirements of the agreement and received approval from the Council and state, among other entities.

On Jan. 1 the company assumed responsibility for the White Nine course and now must make substantial improvements and pay a developer's fee of at least $50,000 before it can acquire the Red Nine next Jan. 1.

While Walker has said he supports leasing out the two nine-hole courses, he believes the current agreement needs to be reworked now that it has essentially been changed by a judge.

Walker, along with Councilmen Lewis "Babe" Rotella, Robert Anderson Jr., and Glenn Choolokian, in February adopted a resolution that requested the corporation counsel's office to ask Doyle to throw out the entire agreement.

But Mayor Vince Anello, who initially introduced the agreement, does not support that resolution.

"Once you have a contract, you have a contract, and I'm not going to violate the law. As far as I'm concerned it is a legal binding contract," Anello said. "I have a moral and legal responsibility to go by the contract."

Doyle's written decision did not void the entire agreement because neither the city nor the developer wanted such a move.

Attorney Edward Perlman, who represents the residents group Save Hyde Park, said the Council resolution proves one party to the contract does seek to void it.

While the city's lawyers claim the final phase was only "an agreement to agree" and not a main component, Perlman disagrees.

He will ask Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. to review the Council resolution and void it during a hearing at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in the Angelo A. DelSignore Civic Building, 775 Third St.

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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