Press Release: for immediate release                                                             December 23, 2002


Friday, December 20th, 2002, the NYS DOT, NYS Thruway, and the FHWA, attempted to persuade a federal judge, Magistrate Judge Randolph F. Treece of the Northern Federal District Court, to remove the injunction he had previously placed on the Drury Lane Interchange and highway project on November 21st, 2002. They also argued that he should force SPARC and co-plaintiffs O.C. Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs and Sierra Club, to post a bond pending the outcome of their appeal. Attorney John Caffry argued for SPARC, et al.

The agencies' effort failed. 

After pointing out that the agencies had brought no new information to the hearing, Treece maintained his position that the public deserved to enjoy the open lands and that the lands should not be despoiled until the appeal process was concluded. He did, however, limit the scope of the injunction, lifting the prohibition on construction of the I-84/I-87 connection project planned in the Town of Newburgh.

SPARC attended the 2:30 PM hearing with about a dozen members. Louisa Flaningam, SPARC member and New Windsor resident, said, "I was so glad that Judge Treece reprimanded NYS DOT for their arrogance in starting the bid process before he even rendered his September 30th decision. It was clear that the Judge wants to protect the land until the appeal is finished".

Michael Sussman, Esq., will represent SPARC, et al, in their appeal to the federal Appellate Court to overturn Treece's decision of September 30th, 2002, in which he decided in favor of the agencies.

In speaking of last Friday's hearing, which he attended, Sussman said, "The significance of the proceeding was that Judge Treece strongly recommitted himself to the propriety of the stay and the protection of the disputed lands pending a decision by the federal Court of Appeals".

SPARC, a coalition of environmental, sportsmen's and civic organizations, has been working to preserve the Stewart Buffer Lands since 1987, taken by the state under eminent domain in 1971. SPARC wants them used for public benefit as open space for recreation, wildlife habitat, farming and a buffer for Stewart Airport.

Contact: Sandra Kissam, Pres., SPARC: 845 564-3018