Bartolomei drops Splash Park lawsuit - The Buffalo News

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Bartolomei drops Splash Park lawsuit

LOCKPORT – Niagara Falls attorney John P. Bartolomei has given up his eight-year effort to obtain more money from the state for the site of the former Niagara Splash Water Park.

The state used eminent domain powers in 2006 to take the site and give it to the Seneca Niagara Falls Gaming Corp. The property adjoins the hotel at the Seneca Niagara Casino.

In an appearance before State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. Monday, Bartolomei agreed to withdraw all his claims.

“It’s a total settlement of everything,” Bartolomei said.

Asked if that meant he will get no more from the state for the land than the $18 million he was already paid, Bartolomei said, “That’s what it looks like.”

Kloch said the settlement included the “extinguishment of all possible claims” by all Bartolomei-controlled entities, including Fallside LLC, Niagara Venture and Niagara Urban Venture.

“This is an all-encompassing stipulation,” said Richard Sullivan of the Harris Beach law firm, representing the Empire State Development Corp. “All claims relating to what was the water park parcel are withdrawn.”

That also includes the former Holiday Inn parcel nearby, said Sullivan’s colleague, Philip G. Spellane.

In 2010, after a protracted hearing that lasted on and off from September 2008 to March 2009, Kloch ruled against Bartolomei.

Kloch decided that not only was Bartolomei not entitled to more money, the judge thought the state overpaid the first time by about $120,000.

Bartolomei has been fighting legal rear-guard actions ever since. He asserted that the matter should have been retried, and that Kloch should have recused himself because he was biased in favor of the Harris Beach firm.

Kloch declined to take himself off the case, and the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court said he didn’t have to.

Bartolomei also asserted that the valuations for the Splash Park property were tainted by alleged fraud. He argued that the land and “fixtures” for the now-demolished water park were worth $29 million, while the state argued for a $12 million figure.

“When it’s over, it’s over,” Bartolomei was heard saying to colleagues outside the courtroom following an appearance before Kloch Monday.


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