$20M renovations at Memorial Field don’t include new tennis facilityPosted: Updated:
June 1, 2018 is a day that tennis pro Kela Simuloya says he will never forget.
On that day, former Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas sent in contractors in the middle of the night to deflate the tennis bubble at Memorial Field.
Thomas said he wanted to peacefully evict Simuloya from the premises to make room for renovations at Memorial Field. Simuloya told News 12 that the workers, instead, destroyed the million-dollar protective bubble which costed him his entire life savings.
Kela immediately sued the city for $27 million. Twenty months later, the case is slowly grinding through the system.
Attorney Andrew Tureaud says they have received encouraging news in recent month. Several city officials have admitted under deposition that they were at fault in that chaotic eviction. His client's damages have been assessed by independent analysts at over $10 million.
Tureaud is hoping the city will settle the case or a judge will rule in his favor.
“We want justice for Kela,” he told News 12. “Everything he worked for, the City of Mount Vernon was destroyed overnight. Justice has to be done and will be done.”
It seems unlikely that the tennis pro will ever return to Memorial Field no matter what the outcome is.
The county has taken over the $20 million renovation and its recently released plans don't include the tennis facility that Simuloya was promised.
He insists that won't stop him from fighting for the kids of Mount Vernon that he loves and still coaches free of charge every day.
The county does plan to add tennis courts to the new Memorial Field, however they won't be associated with Kela Tennis Center.
A spokesman from Mount Vernon says they can't comment on any "ongoing" legal matters.
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