Hempstead Town Board members approved an $85,000 settlement with a former golf course operator, nearly two years after the same settlement was rejected amid concerns of ties to a politically connected firm.
The Town Board at its April 14 meeting unanimously approved the settlement with Double Eagle Golf for operations at the Lido Golf Club in Lido Beach.
Five board members voted in November 2019 to reject an identical $85,000 settlement. Supervisor Don Clavin and Councilman Chris Carini were not on the board when the first settlement was rejected.
Town Board members did not comment on the settlement, which was voted on without discussion. They also did not address their 2019 vote to reject the settlement.
"The Town of Hempstead has settled litigation with Double Eagle Golf," Town Attorney Joseph Nocella said in a statement last week. "The projected costs associated with a lengthy court action would far outpace the cost of settling the case, making the negotiated settlement the most cost-effective option for the Township’s taxpayers."
Double Eagle sued the town in May 2017, seeking a $776,000 reimbursement after they said they made about $1.5 million in repairs following Superstorm Sandy. Double Eagle had argued the town had covered only about half the expenses for capital improvements before the town evicted them in May 2017 when their contract expired after 20 years of running the course. Hempstead officials took control of the golf course operations a month later.
Town officials had countersued arguing the golf course operators allowed it to fall into disrepair before the town seized control.
Three different Nassau County judges recused themselves from the case before it was transferred to a Westchester judge in 2019 for the first settlement. The case prompted a new state law requiring judges to disclose why they recuse themselves from a case.
Joshua Hecht, a Jericho attorney for Double Eagle, declined to comment on the case last week.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York issued a subpoena to the town last year for records of the 20 years Double Eagle ran the golf course. Town officials have not acknowledged receiving a subpoena.
Double Eagle and the town reached a settlement in April 2019, but former Democratic Supervisor Laura Gillen raised objections that Double Eagle had paid nearly $1 million to a company operated by Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Cairo.
Cairo is a former Hempstead councilman who was a hired consultant for Double Eagle on business decisions and transactions. He became chairman of the Nassau GOP in May 2018 after serving more than a decade as vice chairman.
Double Eagle paid consulting fees to McCormick Group Inc., where Cairo was CEO, from 1999 to 2014. Cairo has said he has had no involvement with the golf course since 2014 and was not involved in the town’s legal dispute.
The settlement, which was contingent on the Town Board vote, called for withdrawing any outstanding litigation between Double Eagle and the town. The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing "of any liability or unlawful conduct of any kind" for both sides and also has a nondisparagement clause.
- Hempstead Town earlier this month settled a 2017 suit with Double Eagle Golf.
- The former operators of the Lido Golf Club sued the town for $776,000, claiming the money was owed to them for $1.5 million in improvements after Superstorm Sandy.
- Settlement of $85,000 was approved by the town board on April 14. The board had rejected an identical settlement in 2019.