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Legal woes pile up as Jets press ahead with $1.7b stadium.

The legal wrangling continues this week in the Jets' drive to build its home on the West Side, as politicians show their colors and citizens speak out with further judicial action.

Another lawsuit was filed this week against the MTA and the bidding process for the Hudson Yards, as City Council members lined up against Mayor Bloomberg's tax incentive program that would partially finance the football team's planned west side stadium. On April 25, The Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association, four residents of the West Side community and elected officials, filed suit in the New York State Supreme Court against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority over what it alleges is the agency's flagrantly flawed and inherently biased bid process for the West Side Rail Yards.

The suit claims the MTA Board "violated their statutory and fiduciary duties--as well as the public trust" in awarding the highly-priced development rights to the New York Jets for a $250 million bid, despite competing bids that were worth hundreds of millions of dollars more to the cash-strapped agency. Claimants also say the bid process was "neither fair nor open," "conducted under questionable ethical standards," "engendered a total lack of public confidence in the MTA and its public officials," and "was not in the best interest of the taxpaying public."

The Jets are taking it in stride and are moving forward with their plans to build the $1.7 billion stadium, saying only that the suit is "frivolous and desperate," according to Marissa Shorenstein, Jets' spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the City Council said it now has 34 members of the 26 required as co-sponsors, to pass legislation that would prevent the mayor's use of Payments In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOTS) unless each dollar went through the normal budget process, which includes the approval of the Council. Thirty-four is required to override a mayoral veto.

The PILOT funds are to be used as the city's $300 million portion for the stadium. This passage of this bill may prevent the Public Authorities Control Board from giving its blessing this month, since it must access whether financing is available to see the project through to completion.

"The bottom line is that every public dollar should go through the City's publicly elected legislature," said Speaker Gifford Miller.

Still, some council members came out in support of the stadium this week.

Council members Tracy L. Boyland, Vincent J. Gentile and Helen Sears endorsed the proposed NYSCC, announcing their support on the steps of City Hall surrounded by staunch NYSCC supporters.

"I have reviewed this issue in depth and although I understand those opposed to this project, I must look at the global picture and what it means to each and every one of us in the City of New York," said Council Member Sears.
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Title Annotation:Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association filed lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Author:Nelson, Barbara
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:May 4, 2005
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