Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick listens during a meeting in Freeport....

Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick listens during a meeting in Freeport. (July 10, 2012) Credit: Chris Ware

Freeport's board of trustees has withdrawn part of a lawsuit against Mayor Andrew Hardwick that charged him with improperly using the village's automated phone call system.

Hardwick used the "robocall" in January to criticize Trustee Robert Kennedy, accusing him of using "fear tactics" to generate opposition to Hardwick's budget proposal. Kennedy is running against Hardwick for mayor in March.

The four trustees sued the mayor in Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola. Their lawsuit sought to limit Hardwick to using the system for village announcements and emergency calls.

The trustees last week withdrew a request to prevent him from using the service for nonemergency calls until the case is over. The move is a win for Hardwick, said his attorney, Ronald J. Rosenberg of Garden City.

"It's clearly a win for the citizens because the whole lawsuit was ridiculous," Rosenberg said. "They are trying to use public funds to advance their own political campaign against the mayor."

But Kennedy said the trustees' case against the mayor will continue. They agreed to withdraw part of the suit because Rosenberg assured them Hardwick will not use the phone system for nonemergency calls until the case gets to court, he said.

Rosenberg said he made no such promise.

"It hasn't been withdrawn," Kennedy said of the suit. "The case is going forward."

The village pays $20,000 per year for the phone service, said the trustees' lawyer, Thomas Levin of Garden City. Calls made on the system go to every listed phone number in the village of 43,000 people, he said.

The case is due in court on March 6, Rosenberg said.