Staten Island Hotel Owner Refuses To Displace Hurricane Evacuees For Marathon Runners

Tayla Holman

A Staten Island hotel owner is refusing to evict hurricane evacuees to honor marathon runners' reservations, NY1 reports.

Richard Nicotra, who owns the Hilton Garden Inn in Bloomfield, said those who have been displaced by the hurricane can stay as long as necessary. Marathon runners are unhappy that he will not honor their reservations, but Nicotra said he will not ask the evacuees to leave.

"How do I tell people that have no place to go, that have no home, that have no heat, that you have to leave because I need to make room for somebody that wants to run the marathon," Nicotra said. "I can't do that."

Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners, agreed with Nicotra that the evacuees need to come first.

"The marathoners will find a way," Wittenberg said. "They're deciding they want to be here to be part of helping this city move on."

The Road Runners -- which sponsors the marathon every year -- said it would donate $1 million to the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund.

Nicotra said he doesn't have any vacant rooms, but he is trying to work with local officials to get cots to set up in the hotel's ballrooms.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision not to postpone the marathon this weekend has divided residents and marathon runners. City Councilman Domenic Recchia, whose South Brooklyn district includes Coney Island and other areas that were hit heavily by the hurricane, said, "To host the New York City Marathon in the middle of what is complete devastation and a crisis in parts of this city is just wrong."

Olympic marathoner Paula Radcliffe, however, said the city needed "the solidarity, the lift, and the economic boost that Marathon Sunday brings to NYC."

Bloomberg said Wednesday that the city "is a city where we have to go on."

Do you agree with Richard Nicotra for allowing hurricane evacuees to stay in the hotel as long as necessary? What do you think of Bloomberg's decision not to postpone the marathon?