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Groups' Lawsuit Hopes To Burst Greenburgh's Bubble

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Elm Street Sports Group and a local organization called "Burst the Bubble" have filed a lawsuit against the Town of Greenburgh, claiming violations of state and local laws and tax codes in the town's lease agreement with Game On 365.

In August, the Greenburgh Town Board unanimously approved a 15-year lease for a domed sports complex to be built at 715 Dobbs Ferry Road, pending voter approval in a Nov. 6 referendum. Now, members of the community have taken a stand against the dome's construction.

"Every time I look at the lease I see something that is bogus," Tom Bock, a member of Burst the Bubble, told The Daily Voice in August. "It's like a piece of Swiss cheese — there are so many holes in it."

The lease with Game On would violate the Westchester County tax code and state real property tax law, the state Environmental Quality Review Act, and the Finneran Law, according to the lawsuit.

"The Town has illegally decided not to do any traffic, parking, noise, EMF [electromagnetic fields], aesthetic or community services studies prior to entering the lease," thus violating the state environmental act, members of Burst the Bubble wrote on their website. "Residents will not be protected from potential harms without these studies being done prior to the lease."

Additionally, Westchester County and state laws mandate that the town sell, not lease, property acquired through tax foreclosure, which Greenburgh violated, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit cites similarities between the Game On lease and a 2009 case, Bernstein v. Feiner, in which the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court ruled that a town park cannot be used by residents of the incorporated villages who do not pay town taxes to acquire and maintain the park. The Game On lease does not restrict the complex's use to only Greenburgh residents outside the villages, violating the Finneran Law, the lawsuit says.

Burst the Bubble was founded by Simon Cohen of Greenburgh, while Elm Street Sports Group comprises representatives of The House of Sports, a facility less than three miles away in Ardsley that provides services similar to the proposed Game On complex.

Greenburgh Town Attorney Tim Lewis said there are no plans to withhold the referendum from the November ballot, and he plans to respond to the lawsuit within a month.

"We're not going to let this stop us. There's litigation like this all the time when there's a competitor out there," Lewis said, referring to Elm Street Sports Group. "We will proceed as if we can do it unless we get an injunctive order from the court."

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