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Court upholds city pact with sports firm

A state appeals court upheld a city contract Friday with Greater Niagara Sports Group, a company that hasn't made any of the improvements to the city's Hyde Park Golf Course detailed in that 2004 agreement.

The Appellate Division's Fourth Department affirmed a ruling made nearly a year ago by State Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Kloch Sr. He dismissed resident Frank P. Scaletta's lawsuit against the city that claimed the agreement given to GNS to manage half the public golf course was illegal because there was no bidding process or Planning Board review.

Kloch threw out only one part of the agreement that involved building a hotel on parkland. Under the agreement, the developer gained the outdoor driving range, sports dome and Red Nine golf course but hasn't maintained those areas because company officials claim lenders were scared off by Scaletta's lawsuit.

The appellate ruling does not mean an end to legal wrangling for the developer.

The city filed a lawsuit this year against GNS because the company has not paid $50,000 in past due developer's fees or maintained the sports dome that fell nearly a year ago and has been deemed in default of the contract by the city for making no improvements.

"The court affirmed that what was done was according to the City Charter," said the City Corporation Counsel Ronald D. Anton. "The fact that there was a lawsuit pending does not excuse them from fulfilling [the contract]."

Anton said he will pursue the city's lawsuit while the mayor and City Council decide whether they want to negotiate with the company. GNS attorney Richard Sullivan said his client is hoping the city will meet with him to talk about its lawsuit and the contract.

The Council passed a resolution last year asking attorneys to strike the contract, but Mayor Vince Anello did not act on it, and Kloch did not change his decision. Council members have remained skeptical about the developer since the fallen sports dome at the course has not been repaired or removed in nearly a year.

"Our position was we certainly couldn't comply with a contract that was under challenge by the taxpayers, as well as the Council, but now it has been declared lawful, and we want to do what we told the city we'd do all along," Sullivan said Monday.

He added that his client, "wants to do whatever is necessary to put the contract back together."

Scaletta's attorney, Edward Perlman, said this week he is disappointed that the contract was upheld but added, "We drew the Council and media and public attention to what a bad deal this is for the city, so, yes, we were successful."

e-mail: gnorheim@buffnews.com

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