NEWARK, NJ (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) – Opponents of a Newark arena stood amid cranes, bulldozers and other heavy equipment to announced that they would seek a court order to block further construction on the site.
Attorney Ira Karasick, who represents 91-year-old plaintiff David Schnegelberger, said he would seek a permanent injunction in Superior Court in Newark to cut off funking for the arena until a 2002 lawsuit challenging the funding mechanism was heard.
Karasick and Schnegelberger said they were optimistic that they could prevail in the suit, in which Schnegelberger and four other plaintiffs contend that a deal struck four years ago between the Port Authority and the city is illegal, according to the Bergen Record.
The Port Authority’s deal called for the payment of 30 years of supplemental rent for its lease on Newark Liberty International Airport, $210 million of which would be used to fund arena construction without every being paid directly into the city budget. The move prevented arena opponents from being able to force a referendum on the city’s role in building the $310 million arena.
“I feel like we have been betrayed by the mayor and the City Council,” Schnegelberger told the paper. “The kids are learning in closets, our crime rate is souring and no one cares about the people. It’s time to put us first, instead of team owners who can pay for this arena themselves.”
The city was denied a request to throw out the Schnegelberger case last month. Newark Business Administrator Richard Monteilh and New Jersey Devils owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek called the suit “baseless,” according to the paper.
“We’re still going full steam ahead,” Vanderbeek said, adding that a months-long soil compaction project at the site would conclude in about a week, setting the stage for pouring the concrete foundation.
Karasick acknowledged that once the arena shell begins to take shape, “it becomes problematic for us.”
“But what they’ve been doing so far is preparing the infrastructure for the site, and that needs to be done anyway,” Karasick told the paper. “Nobody misses the [abandoned] Renaissance Mall that was torn down, and we don’t object to seeing development at the site. Hopefully, the next legal step will just take less time.”
On top of the lawsuits, there is concern that the Devils will not provide their promised $100 million share, and questions and trepidation among state assemblymen and women has been prominent in recent days.
“The $100 million from the Devils has got to be nailed down this week, whether it’s cash or a legitimate equivalent,” Monteilh told the paper. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers