Plaintiffs-appellants commenced the action giving rise to this appeal seeking a declaration that defendants-appellees had violated various federal and state environmental and transportation laws in approving a proposed project to construct an interchange connecting an interstate highway to an airport. On cross motions for summary judgment, the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (Treece, M.J.) dismissed the action upon a finding that defendants-appellees had complied with all relevant federal and state laws. See Stewart Park & Reserve Coalition, Inc. v. Slater, 225 F.Supp.2d 219 (N.D.N.Y.2002) ("SPARC I").
The principal question we must answer in this appeal is whether the publicly owned properties surrounding the airport, which for almost thirty years have been made available to the public for use as a park, are "parklands" subject to the protections of Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, 49 U.S.C. § 303(c), notwithstanding the fact they were never permanently designated as such. Defendants-appellees concluded that they were not and consequently failed to perform the required analysis set forth in Section 4(f) before approving the proposed construction of the interchange, which was to traverse these properties. Because we find that defendants-appellees' interpretation of Section 4(f) is not supported by the plain meaning or legislative history of the statute, we conclude that their interpretation of Section 4(f) is unreasonable and not entitled to deference and that they should have performed the analysis set forth in Section 4(f) before approving the proposed construction of the interchange. We therefore reverse the District Court's summary judgment to the extent that it dismissed plaintiffs-appellants' claim that defendants-appellees were required to perform the analysis set forth in Section 4(f), and remand the case to the District Court for proceedings consistent with this opinion. Additionally, for the reasons set forth below, we affirm the judgment of the District Court in all other respects.
Miner '56, Roger J., "Stewart Park & Reserve Coalition v. Slater, 352 F. 3d 545 - Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit 2003" (2003). Circuit Court Opinions. 155.