Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (2024)

David Wilcox

The Finger Lakes Drive-In plans to open this summer, as soon as June, despite having its entrance blockaded by the Cayuga Nation due to a property line dispute that remains in court.

The blockade, which effectively closes the Aurelius movie theater, was also recently mentioned in a separate court proceeding that involves drive-in owner Paul Meyer and the nation's leadership council.

On Wednesday, the drive-inposted on its Facebook page: "There are definite plans to open the drive-in this season; likely in June. We have been getting things ready. We may be shifting things around."

The drive-in might have to shift things around to open because the nation claims that its entrance, as well as several of its parking spots and about a third of its movie screen, are actually located on 1044 Clark St. Road next door. The nation purchased that property, assessed at $56,000, for $720,000 in January 2023. The nation has said it intends to place the property into federal trust.

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After the nation brought the dispute to Cayuga County Supreme Court in January, the drive-in responded by asking for an injunction against the blockade. Meyer argued that his access to the neighboring property was protected by a 20-year lease he signed with the previous owner. He alleged the nation knew about the lease before the purchase, but the nation called the lease "invalid and unenforceable."

The nation has been ordered to show cause why the injunction should not be granted at a June 11 hearing. The nation's leadership council did not respond to a request for comment by The Citizen.

Meyer also did not respond to a request for comment. The drive-in's Facebook post noted the dispute but said, "I try to keep it non-political so I'll leave the conversation to what's been said here."

Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (2)

As the property dispute plays out in state court, another proceeding involving Meyer and the nation continues in federal court.

The drive-in owner is currently arguing for access to nation financial records in the leadership council's RICO lawsuit against him and Montezuma smoke shop Pipekeepers. Meyer is a codefendant in the lawsuit, which accuses the smoke shop of stealing $5 million in business from the nation, because he sold the7153 Route 90 property where it's located to operator Dusty Parker.

Parker and Meyer, who are being defended separately, each seek access to the financial records the nation used to calculate the $5 million figure. The nation, however, argues the records are attorney-client privileged information. Further, the nation continued, if Meyer was given access to them, he could not be trusted to "keep them locked away" from Parker due to their "ongoing relationship."

Despite Meyer's claim to the contrary, the nation said, evidence of that relationship can be seen on the video billboard in front of the drive-in, which has been running a Pipekeepers advertisem*nt.

In response, Meyer attorney David Tennant argued that Pipekeepers is one of several advertisers who use the billboard, and such use does not show "direct participation in the competing businesses of the Parker defendants." Tennant then mentioned the nation's purchase of the property next to the drive-in and blockade of the business, calling its actions "tortious."

"It is the Nation that blurs the record and makes arguments unsupported by facts or law," he said.

Gallery: Finger Lakes Drive-In blockaded by Cayuga Nation

Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (3)

Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (4)

Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (5)

Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (6)

Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (7)

Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (8)

Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (9)

Executive Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net.

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Finger Lakes Drive-In announces opening; Cayuga Nation cases intersect (2024)
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