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 362 days ago

Share:

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.


More from News 12
2:11
Lustgarten Foundation walk in Westchester raises funds for pancreatic cancer research

Lustgarten Foundation walk in Westchester raises funds for pancreatic cancer research

2:42
STORM WATCH: Scattered strong storms overnight in the Hudson Valley

STORM WATCH: Scattered strong storms overnight in the Hudson Valley

0:25
Police: Man who punched 9-year-old girl at Grand Central Terminal arrested

Police: Man who punched 9-year-old girl at Grand Central Terminal arrested

0:28
Israel hails success in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack. G7 democracies condemn attack

Israel hails success in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack. G7 democracies condemn attack

0:33
Police: Dollar store employee attacked during robbery in Dutchess County

Police: Dollar store employee attacked during robbery in Dutchess County

0:30
Police: Suspect arrested for stabbing Ramapo man in his driveway

Police: Suspect arrested for stabbing Ramapo man in his driveway

2:18
Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge lit in orange to celebrate The Arc Westchester's 75 years of service

Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge lit in orange to celebrate The Arc Westchester's 75 years of service

2:13
Yo Digo No Mas nonprofit hosts panel discussion about child sex abuse

Yo Digo No Mas nonprofit hosts panel discussion about child sex abuse

2:04
CDC: Most women do not get a mammogram because of financial difficulties

CDC: Most women do not get a mammogram because of financial difficulties

0:27
New Rochelle man arrested, accused of exposing himself to college students

New Rochelle man arrested, accused of exposing himself to college students

1:28
Tunnel to Towers benefits from Yonkers-New Rochelle FD charity ice hockey game

Tunnel to Towers benefits from Yonkers-New Rochelle FD charity ice hockey game

0:21
Officials cut the ribbon on new Bedford firehouse

Officials cut the ribbon on new Bedford firehouse

0:37
Orange County DA: Newburgh man pleads guilty to 2 counts of criminal possession of a weapon

Orange County DA: Newburgh man pleads guilty to 2 counts of criminal possession of a weapon

0:40
Authorities announce arrest in 2019 Middletown homicide

Authorities announce arrest in 2019 Middletown homicide

1:35
CDC: Measles could lose 'elimination status' amid uptick across the U.S.

CDC: Measles could lose 'elimination status' amid uptick across the U.S.

0:36
Officials: Person rescued after falling onto train tracks of Croton-Harmon Metro-North station

Officials: Person rescued after falling onto train tracks of Croton-Harmon Metro-North station

2:08
Yonkers tenants concerned building management will force them out of their apartments

Yonkers tenants concerned building management will force them out of their apartments

0:28
Police: Yonkers man charged for Old Westbury gas station robbery from nearly a year ago

Police: Yonkers man charged for Old Westbury gas station robbery from nearly a year ago

0:27
Groundbreaking ceremony held for new White Plains affordable housing project

Groundbreaking ceremony held for new White Plains affordable housing project

0:47
Musicians showcase their talents at Sleepy Hollow Jazz Festival

Musicians showcase their talents at Sleepy Hollow Jazz Festival