A federal judge late Thursday dismissed a claim by environmentalists and theater groups that the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation was pressured by the White House to approve the demolition of two historic Broadway theaters, the Morosco and the Helen Hayes.
U.S. District Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy, in a 15-page decision, said, "The Council decision was not tainted by White House pressure . . ."His ruling stemmed from an original lawsuit challenging the proposed construction of a $292 million complex that includes a 50-story, 2,000-room hotel in the rundown Times Square area to be built by John C. Portman Jr., a well-known developer.
Duffy held a hearing on Jan. 21 at the direction of the U.S. Court of Appeals, in order to resolve a claim by attorneys for Actors' Equity and Natural Resources Inc. that White House influence was being used to block their efforts to save the theaters.
Duffy noted that "the plaintiffs allege that the dispatch accorded the Morosco theater determination resulted from political pressure exerted by Lyn Nofziger, who at the time served as a high-level aide to President Reagan."
Duffy said: "The threats and extraneous pressure alleged by plaintiffs are . . . unsupported."