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Residents Fight Commack Schools to be Heard in Marion Carll Farm Lawsuit

Taxpayers claim their only goal is to preserve the historic farm for the Commack community.


Four Commack residents are fighting back against Commack School District for the right to have their legal arguments in defense of the school in the Marion Carll Farm Lawsuit. 

Vito J. Cottone, Daniel Fusco, Arthur J. Reilly Sr., and James Tampellini f brought forth by Carll's heirs against Commack School District for possession of the nine-acre historic farm. When school officials tried to prevent them as "mere taxpayers," the residents have chosen to fight on instead of backing down. 

"That the District, and not the Plaintiffs, have opposed the Motion, which merely seek to assist them in defeating the Carll heirs' claim and preserve the Property as a valuable assest of the District, speaks volumes about its true intent," reads their Aug. 31 memorandum to further support the Motion to Intervene. 

Commack school officials expressed a desire to prevent the four Commack residents from becoming involved in the lawsuit, filed , who seek to repossess the historic property, claiming the school district has failed to use the land for educational and public purposes. 

Eugene Barnosky, attorney for Commack school district, said the Board of Education did not take a vote on whether to the residents from intervening, but rather it was an action he took on the school district's behalf as their legal counsel at their Aug. 30 board meeting. 

The district's attorney said the residents are hoping to "usurp" the District right manage its affairs - including Marion Carll Farm.

On page 8 of the four resident, called Intervenors, memorendium reads:

[T]he District's assertion that the Intervenors are seekign to usurp its authority for the management of the Property is nonsense.... 

While the Intervenors may not agree with the way the District has managed and maintained the Property, they do not dispute its discretionary authority to do so. 

The addendum to the motion also challenges the district's legal argument that despite ottone, Fusco, Reilly, and Tampellini being taxpayers, they have no real interest in the Marion Carll Farm. 

The Commacck residents claim school officials are supposed to act to benefit the resident taxpayers, supposedly to represent them and their interests in this lawsuit. Plus, the historic farm was originally given to Commack School District for the public. 

The possibility if Commack School District was to lose the lawsuit, it would lose Marion Carll Farm, is a bigger reason residents' say for them to get involved.

On page 6 of the resident's response to the district,  

The District cannot seriously contend that a loss of the Property, without appropriate compensation, would not affect its resident taxpayers, when millions of dollars of their tax money has footed the bill over the year to cover the District's expenses associated with maintaining and preserving the Property. 

Commack Superintendent Donald James said the four residents attempts to have their voices and legal arguments heard on the Marion Carll Farm lawsuit has cost the district "quite a bit in legal fees."  

The exact amount this legal action has cost was not available from Commack School Districts as of Thursday night. 

Marc Rosen September 09, 2012 at 01:35 AM
I'm not even slightly surprised that the district's legal counsel is against the residents participating. It wouldn't matter who the district hires as counsel, or where this is tried. Lawyers, as a rule, are tasked with providing legal services to the public. It's THEIR JOB to make sure NON-LAWYERS do NOT butt in on THEIR cases.
Retired September 09, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I don't agree with your statement, lawyers are ethically obligated to act in the best interest of its client..not the public Even if what you say is true, the fact is that the District's Board of Education is supposed to make sure that it doesn't needlessly spend taxpayers dollars. It's duty is to weigh the advice given to it by its legal counsel to make sure it's in the best interest of the District and its residents - especially here since the Attorneys' advice could be tainted by the fact that he's making money by suggesting the District oppose the motion to intervene and the basis for opposing is the B.S. argument that taxpayers have no standing to intervene in the matter.
Arthur Reilly Jr September 12, 2012 at 03:18 PM
These arguments all hold weight however the issue overlooked is the fact that the BOE stated it will not vigorously defend the heirs lawsuit. Yes the heirs have a right to the property and dwellings if they are not kept in acceptable condition. However, it has been alleged the Heirs window of opportunity has lapsed after ten years of no public access, disrepair and no actions from the heirs at all, in all that time. It seems once a cash buyer surfaced in 2010 the Heirs interest in the farm peaked. The question no one has been able to answer is why did it take three years to place a tarp to cover a hole in the farmhouse roof to protect it? What the districts Lawyer may need to ask is: Do the Heirs at this point in time still have the authority to take back the farm? This major tenet of the ongoing debate has been left out of public discourse. The Lawyer for the board has to act in the best interest of his or her client, but the Board of Ed on the other hand must act in the best interest of the public. I am sure in the long-haul, some board members will pay a political price for this situation as maybe they should..
Wall E To September 13, 2012 at 03:10 AM
And how will it look if the "non Lawyers" arguments turn out to be more powerful and legally binding than that the district's legal counsel has put forward. It may prove that a new supplier of legal services is needed.
Frank December 13, 2012 at 03:22 AM
What ever happened? Any updates?


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