Floyd Bennett Bummer Migrant Shelter Case Dismissed

 Floyd Bennett Bummer Migrant Shelter Case Dismissed


By Katie McFadden

The lawsuit over the migrant shelter at Floyd Bennett Field has been dismissed. Shortly before going to press, Councilwoman Joann Ariola’s office informed The Rockaway Times about the news.

On September 15, 2023, the lease was signed for Floyd Bennett Field to be used as a shelter for migrant families, up to 2,000 people, making the rumors a reality. Councilwoman Joann Ariola and Brooklyn’s Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, at the forefront of this battle to stop it, were at the ready to file an injunction to put an end to the plan before a tent could go up. On September 19, they and nearly 40 other officials filed the injunction at Richmond County Supreme Court. What followed was a series of various delays that ultimately led the case to being moved, with an injunction filed on October 23 in Kings County Supreme Court. On November 15, the first migrants started arriving at Floyd Bennett Field. Initially some rejected the accommodations but with no options left as the migrant crisis overburdens New York City, many returned. According to the last count, about 1,900 migrants were living at Floyd Bennett Field, nearly at capacity.

On December 20, the first hearing was held regarding the case at the Kings County Supreme Court, where state and city officials requested that the case be dismissed. On January 18, Ariola and Williams appeared along with their attorney John Ciampoli for in-person arguments, to which the state and city were given two weeks to respond. The city and state responded two weeks later, and a waiting game has taken place ever since.

For various reasons, including the poor conditions the migrants live in at the national park at Floyd Bennett Field, weather challenges that force evacuations, flooding, the remote location and the impact the migrants have had on the surrounding communities, with an uptick in panhandling on the streets and at homes, to more serious issues like robberies, Councilwoman Ariola and Assemblywoman Williams were awaiting a response to the lawsuit that would provide some relief. However, that didn’t come.

On Wednesday, after looking online at documents relating to the case, Ariola’s office learned that their lawsuit was dismissed, despite them never being notified about the decision, and with no explanation given.

“We are extremely disappointed to learn of Judge Sweeney’s decision to dismiss our case in the Floyd Bennett Field lawsuit,” Councilwoman Joann Ariola said. “We ask that Judge Sweeney publish the memorandum explaining exactly why he has decided this way, and we will continue to do what we can to push for an immediate closure of the tent complex at Floyd Bennett Field.”

“I am appalled by Judge Sweeney’s decision to dismiss our case, and disgusted to learn that he did so without notifying either party or the public,” Assemblywoman Jaime Williams said. “We would love to know why he feels it is prudent to place 2,000 human beings in a flood zone in the middle of a National Recreation Area. This is a disgrace and an insult to every tax paying citizen who resides in the area around Floyd Bennett Field, and a disservice to the people who are being forced to live in this compound.”

“I believe Judge Sweeney made the wrong decision by dismissing our case against the poorly planned and ill-conceived housing for migrants at Floyd Bennett Field,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “I participated in this lawsuit because federal parkland should not be used for housing anyone, let alone parkland that is in a recognized flood zone with nearly no resources. This is a federal problem and no matter how you feel, it is clear that Floyd Bennett Field is an inhumane location to house migrants and should not be allowed.”

The Rockaway Times will provide more details next week.

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