Several East Harlem residents will square off against the City of New York in court today over the future of the sports fields on Randalls Island.At issue is a plan under whose terms a group of 20 private schools will pay more than $50 million towards build dozens of new sports fields on public land. In return the schools get the rights to the land during the hours between three and six in the afternoon on school days for the next 20 years. Several residents of East Harlem say the lease would put the fields off limits to public school children during those after school hours.
Currently the islands 36 sports fields, which the city says are in need of improvement, are used by the private schools. Their permits to the fields are reviewed annually.
The suit is scheduled for oral arguments in state Supreme Court in Manhattan today. In the end, the case will turn on a narrow issue: whether the city circumvented the community board, and City Council in approving the lease agreement. The plan got approval from the city’s Franchise Concession and Review Committee.
A lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Norman Siegel, said there is also the question of whether the city should have conducted an environmental review of the plan, which would result in a number of grass fields being replaced with artificial turf.
By Staff Reporter of the Sun
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