Kela Tennis Bubble speak out after being awarded $9.3 million in bubble blunder

Kela Simunyola spoke to News 12 for his first media interview since a a state supreme court jury awarded him $9.3 million for a lawsuit he filed against the City of Mount Vernon.

Nadia Galindo

Apr 18, 2023, 9:42 PM

Updated 401 days ago

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The Kela Tennis Bubble was deflated in the cover of night in June of 2018 but for Kela Simunyola, it feels like yesterday.
"It was just horrific and I couldn't understand it," he said. "How could they do this on this property that was for both mount Vernon and our facility."
Simunyola spoke to News 12 for his first media interview since a a state supreme court jury awarded him $9.3 million for a lawsuit he filed against the City of Mount Vernon.
We interviewed him at the site where his tennis center once stood which is now home to the newly renovated Memorial Field.
He said the judgement is vindication to his plight, but added it didn't have to go this way.
"We didn't want that to happen but they just put us in that position," he said.
As we've reported, the tennis bubble was demolished by then Mayor Richard Thomas who claimed Simunyola wasn't paying rent.
Simunyola had just made $356,000 of investments into the facility that was supposed to be paid for by the city.
"What happened here is that Mount Vernon breached the license agreement, they tried get Kela to move to a different location on Memorial Field and then when he stayed because he had every right to be there, they just knocked it down," said James Borkowski is one of the attorneys representing Simunyola.
Borkowski said while the incident happened on Thomas's watch, the current mayor's administration is partially to blame.
"We could have settled this case," he said. "However, Mount Vernon didn't want to play ball."
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard tells News 12, settlement talks were handled by the cities comptrollers office which offered $1.2 million which was rejected.
Mount Vernon's Comptroller Darren Morton released a statement Monday stating the city made it’s offer based on its finances.
He said in part, "While the city fully intends to appeal the decision for the reasons stated by our trial counsel, we will remain open to discussion for settlement."
Thomas previously released a statement defending his actions stating tearing down the bubble was necessary to clean up environmental hazards.
The judgment of$ 9.3 million will end up being more than $15 million after interest is calculated.


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