Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano had the right to cancel a lease agreement signed by his predecessor, Thomas Suozzi, to build a new First Precinct station house in a Baldwin shopping center, a county court ruled this week.
In his Monday ruling, state Supreme Court Justice Vito DeStefano said the county's 30-year lease agreement was invalid because neither Suozzi nor his deputies signed an amendment to the deal requiring the contractor to utilize union labor.
The case dates back to a controversial 2009 plan by Suozzi to replace the dilapidated First Precinct with a new building in a Baldwin strip mall.
The lease called for Nassau to pay private landlord Grand Baldwin Associates a half-million dollars to select contractors and supervise construction of the new precinct house.
Nassau would also pay to demolish the old building and construct the new precinct as well as one-third of the shopping center's taxes for a projected total cost of $34 million.
The deal was approved by the lame duck Democratic legislature in December 2009, which also inserted an amendment requiring the contractor to sign a project labor agreement -- a pre-hire collective bargaining agreement with a construction union that establishes wages and benefits.
County officials signed the lease but not the amendment, rendering the entire deal unenforceable, DeStefano ruled.
Mangano killed the lease after taking office in 2010 and blocked payments to Grand Baldwin, sparking the lawsuit.
"We believe this was an incredibly bad deal for taxpayers and a huge waste of money," said County Attorney John Ciampoli.
Stuart Ball, an attorney for Grand Baldwin, was traveling and did not respond to requests for comment.
Suozzi, who is seeking the county executive's job back, blamed Mangano, who is running for re-election, for failing to get a new precinct house built.
"Due to his own indecisiveness, inaction and mismanagement, Ed Mangano has failed to build the new First Precinct that he promised the residents of Baldwin nearly four years ago," said Suozzi campaign manager Danny Kazin.