NEWSDAYFour Baldwin residents, including Nassau's former chief administrative Judge Leo McGinity, filed suit this week to block a 30-year county lease for a new First Precinct police headquarters in a partially vacant strip shopping center in their community.

The suit claims the deal negotiated by then-Democratic County Executive Thomas Suozzi and approved by the lame-duck Democratic majority on the Nassau legislature in December, is an illegal giveaway of public money while circumventing public bidding law.

Under the lease, Nassau would pay private landlord Grand Baldwin Associates more than a half-million dollars to select contractors and supervise construction of a new precinct building in the shopping strip at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Ethel T. Kloberg Drive.

The county also would pay all costs of demolition, construction and furnishing of the new headquarters as well as pay rent and one-third of the shopping center's taxes for a projected total cost of $34 million - while the improvements would revert to the landlord at the end of the lease.

The suit, filed in State Supreme Court in Mineola by Syosset attorney Howard Avrutine, asks that the lease be declared "null, void, invalid and unenforceable" for three reasons: it violates state law that prohibits using public funds for private purposes; disregards public bidding requirements; and breaks state environmental law by not including a traffic study.

"My clients feel very strongly as taxpayers and residents," Avrutine said Thursday. "They want to ensure that their voices are heard on this point and their rights are asserted to assure that this deal does not happen."

Representatives for Grand Baldwin Associates did not return messages for comment.

The lease was a major campaign issue for Legis. Joseph Scannell (D-Baldwin) last year, who sent mailings trumpeting the new precinct even before the deal was approved. The county contended the existing headquarters building on Merrick Avenue in Baldwin is too dilapidated and too small to fix.

Published: April 15, 2010, By Celeste Hadrick,

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