WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Bids for the first expansion project of the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza since it opened in 1999 will be advertised later this month and one of the original members of the authority overseeing the facility, attorney Anthony Lupas, will be honored in passing.
At its monthly meeting Wednesday the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority announced a May 23 date for advertising the bids to construct a large bar with concession stands in the concourse and an upscale lounge in the upper suite level. Bids for the estimated $3.8 million project will be opened on June 16, the same day they must be returned. A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on July 9.
Authority chairwoman Donna Cupinski asked for a moment of silence for Lupas to begin the public meeting at noon at the arena. The 80-year-old Lupas died April 8, eight months after federal mail fraud charges were dismissed because of his failing health and his inability to assist in his defense of the allegations that he bilked clients more than $6 million in an investment scheme.
He will be honored with a plaque at the East Gate like three other deceased members, Frances Bartlomowicz, Daniel Distasio and Monsignor Andrew McGowan.
“Words escape me for Tony’s contribution to this arena,” Cupinski said.
She said Lupas was there from the start, adding, “He really was passionate about this arena. He’s a loss not only to us, but to society as well.”
Even though he was charged, he was not found guilty, she pointed out. The court of public opinion might convict based on the allegations, “I respectfully disagree,” she said. “I believe that’s the least we could do for him for everything he’s done for the arena.”
There was no objection from any of the authority members and no one from the public attending the meeting.
Authority members spoke up about another unexcused absence of authority member George Horwatt and expressed their displeasure with the failure by Luzerne County Council to respond to a request to act on his dismissal.
Three consecutive unexcused absences are grounds for removal from the authority under the Municipal Authorities Act. The county appoints authority members and it should the governing body when it comes to removing them.
Authority member Hal Bloss said Horwatt has missed four of the last five meetings.
“We need people to participate if they’re going to serve. That’s the whole idea of a board, to serve. If you’re not going to serve then do something else,” Bloss said.
Authority solicitor Murray Ufberg urged caution in proceeding.
“I think there’s some measure of involvement with the county. I don’t know that we can just let people go,” Ufberg said. “I think the way to do it is to go and meet with council.”
Authority member Alex Milanes noted that the authority already has sent letter to county council and there might be some reluctance to take on a precedent setting issue.
“I think we did the right thing is we put the ball in their court. They may not have an appetite to address this,” Milanes said.