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NYC hotel owner refuses to kick out locals for marathoners

A proposal by Dutch engineering firm Arcadis to build a barrier in the Verrazano Narrows between New York's Brooklyn borough and Staten Island, shielding the Upper New York Bay.AP Photo/Arcadis

After the city's controversial decision to hold the New York City Marathon in the wake of superstorm Sandy, the owner of a Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Staten Island says he's refusing to kick out his current guests who lost their homes to clear rooms for runners arriving for Sunday's New York City Marathon.

Hotel owner Richard Nicotra told Fox News Friday that local residents made homeless by the storm were pleading with him not to displace them.

"People were begging me and crying saying 'You can't throw me out. I have no place to go,'" he said.

Nicotra has a contract with the New York Road Runners for rooms.  He contacted the organization after realizing that he could not kick out the local residents and offer other options, including setting up a temporary dormitory in the hotel's 10,000-square-foot ballroom, which can house up to 500 people with cots.

Mary Wittenburg, chief executive of the New York Road Runners, told NY1 that displaced people should not have to go. "This isn’t about running," she said. "This is about helping the city. We’re dedicating this race to the lives that were lost and helping the city recover. We want to raise money and awareness.”

Many New Yorkers are expressing their outrage over Michael Bloomberg's decision to redirect resources away from the hurricane recovery to the event, and are urging New York City's mayor to reconsider. Hundreds of people have written on the hotel's Facebook page to show their support.