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NYS DEC finds Sloatsburg Community Fields safe and not contaminated

Posted on 30 March 2017 by Editor

Mayor Carl Wright reported Thursday, March 31, that NYS DEC soil sampling of dirt and other sewer construction materials at Sloatsburg’s Community Fields found no contamination or indications of possible hazardous materials.

Sloatsburgers can breathe a sigh of relief as an incredibly worrying rumor has been struck down by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

NBC News 4 reporter Sarah Wallace filed a sensational video report on Tuesday evening that charged Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence with culpable malfeasance by leaving knowingly contaminated sewer construction dirt and materials at Sloatsburg’s Community Fields and at other dump sites in Hillburn, NY.

Mayor Carl Wright reported that he was informed Thursday afternoon, March 30, by Rockland County Sewer District #1 Executive Director Diane Phillips that the NYS DEC reported that NO soil samples at the Sloatsburg Community Fields tested hazardous or are contaminated.

According to a news report by LoHud’s Mike D’onofrio, RCSD’s Assistant Director Mike “Saber said the soil in the Sloatsburg park — adjacent to a soccer field and baseball diamond — was deposited there around 2009 and was at the time classified as “non-hazardous contaminated soil.”

The sewer district had the soil in Sloatsburg in July, Saber said, and found that “the contaminants of concern had fallen below the limits of contaminated soil.”

The sudden “discovery” of contaminated soil in Sloatsburg came just as St. Lawrence will stand trial for federal corruption charges related to inflating town assets to get better bond ratings. Reporter Sarah Wallace had received information about possible contaminated soil in Sloatsburg and Hillburn, NY, as well as a whole package of information on the sewer project that included the 2012 contract for removal of materials.

Ramapo and St. Lawrence are still under investigation regarding the $800,000 contract signed by the town with the RCSD in 2012 that outlined removal of materials from Sloatsburg in the timeframe of six months.

So, Sloatsburg parents and kids can breathe safely. The materials at the “ball fields” that many Sloatsburgers used over the years are harmless — and have been put to good use as fill and for rock walls.

Village Hall took the matter very seriously and got to the bottom of the case in record time.

Note: This article has been updated to account for information gathered by the Rockland County Sewer District #1.


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11 Comments For This Post

  1. Robert Easton Says:

    So, as it turns out, the dumped refuse is not dangerous. But, Sissy (commenting on the previous article) is absolutely right. How is it that the public officials responsible for the village didn’t seem to notice the dumping? Would a homeowner allow dumping on his own property without taking action? Didn’t anyone down at “Municipal Plaza” ever ask where those piles of dirt came from and chase down who should remove them?

    Likewise, is there anyone at Municipal Plaza making sure the town (Sewer District #2) keeps their commitments to the village? [Aren’t they the same people who turned route 17 into a dangerous roller coaster?]

    We as taxpayers have had not only refuse left behind, but nearly a million dollars in taxes stolen from us. Isn’t anyone watching those contracts? Would any of us hire a contractor to do work for us and not check the results? So, why let the town get away with this theft? [Oh yeah, because the village didn’t actually hire them, nor actually pay them.]

    Maybe the village lawyer should be watching these sorts of things? That might be more valuable use of his time than managing speeding fines. (You can check, I haven’t had a speeding fine here.)

    As this plays out, local village officials will point elsewhere and blame others.

    By the way, is that big pile of dead Christmas trees still littering the west end of the park? By the way, are we charging that tree cutting service anything for parking their trucks in the park overnight?

  2. Editor Says:

    To be fair to the Village, the Rockland County Sewer District operates the sewer project and has contracted to Metra and a number of other sub-contractors to execute the work. There have been any number of staging grounds throughout Sloatsburg during the project — most of the properties have been compensated for the use in some way.

    Additionally, the Municipality also has to negotiate with the RCSD, the NYS DOT, county, and the Town of Ramapo, none of which give much away. So, the village tries to play nice when it can as it in turn needs services and funds, oftentimes from the other entities mentioned.

    An exqmple is allowing Ramapo to access unincorporated Ramapo property via the Community Fields + use of some of the parking lot area (where the dirt and rock mound in question is).

    The upside to Route 17 being torn to pieces is that Sloatsburg is now the focus of a NYS DOT Complete Streets project that may provide much more in improvements from the agency than the village could have hoped for.

    At the end of the sewer project one hopes all the various dirt and rock “staging” sites in Sloatsburg are made whole again.

  3. Michael Says:

    Of course it is uncontaminated! The piles of dirt have been sitting there for 5 years. The volatile and semi-volatile compounds have been washed away by rain, snow and wind. Anthracene, Benzoanthracene, etc. are broken down by the elements.

  4. chris treadwell Says:

    Any person in American that has a driveway has the same level of dirt contamination. If you ever dug a hole for a fence post you know that there is left over soil, you use it somewhere else in the yard or you toss it. This is our street dirt legally allowed to go back into the hole or trucked away. The trucked away part is the crime by who else, but the ever popular and trustworthy CSL.

  5. John Kwasnicki Says:

    This Sloatsburg toxic news story should have covered this Giant Plle of oppx: 68,000 sq.yards of fill that came from the NYSDOT re-alignment project(1997/1998)of Rt.17,south of Sloatsburg,that be recycled contracted.

    The NBC – Sarah Wallace should look into the NYSDOT files at there regional headquarters in Poughkeepsie, NY, as to the NYSDOT was to process such old Rt. 17 black top and was there a Sloatsburg contract for this dumping with Trucking log’s.

    What was this Giant pile of Rt.17 debris going to be used for, or was it to support the Sloatsburg proposed (1990’s) 100 unit Senior Citizen housing…Is that right RCSD#1 Ex. Diana Philips ?
    Is it to say that no Sloatsburg elected official saw no Giant Pile dumping on the Ramapo Piece and Dye Mills four (4) Dye Fields that were under the NYSDEC Hazardous Waste list ?

    I am still waiting for a response from the NYSDOT from my 20 page Rt.17 information sent on the Rt.17 “Sloatsburg Complete Streets” Public Workshop of February 28, 2017.

  6. Editor Says:

    Great point! That gigantic pile of concrete debris and whatnot greeting all at the entrance to the Community Fields is not only a sight for sore eyes, overgrown and abandoned, but a mound of utter uselessness that takes up a huge amount of space the Village could certainly put to better use now; it reminds one daily of the continuing saga of the filling in of a floodplain by a former Mayor and administration that acted in haste and with good intentions to improve Sloatsburg but also failed the community — bequeathing such assets as the Senior Center and Library, along with the rancid and ill-kept eyesore strip mall that is now the unfortunate commercial feature of our fair village.

  7. Mrs. K Says:

    I would like to know what kind of compensation you are referring to. A very large part of my property along Eagle Valley Road was destroyed during the RCSD#1 storage, dumping, staging, and otherwise assaulting a fragile wetland area of the Nacoma Brook. The damage is extensive and creates a dangerous condition on the road which is heavily used by cars, bikes, and pedestrians. Not to mention the damage to the wetland from such a large amount of road runoff. A blind eye seems to be the MO.

    To be fair, to the residents of the village, the village officials have a duty to oversee at the very least, a daily inspection, of a village wide infrastructure project, such as this. To automatically differ to the county is dismissive of real hazard and real concern.

    To be fair, again, I’m not really interested in compensation. I’m interested in protecting my property from aggressive and destructive damage, and for the repair of it to its natural habitat – a protected wetland. Oh wait, you really can’t do that after a bulldozer has gone through a few times.

  8. Editor Says:

    The Sewer project work done along Eagle Valley Road and the Nakoma Brook has truly been an assault … and you’re quite correct that the Village has deferred much too much to the Rockland County Sewer District. Though the project is enormous and very complex with all sorts of entangling liabilities … think of in times gone by when water and gas lines were installed. Big projects, lots of digging and damage.

    The RCSD often appears to see the communities it serves as obstacles to overcome, annoyances, obstructions. Not to mention the rumored rampant wheeling and dealing over the years by the Sewer Commission. The Village of Sloatsburg is still looking for $500,000 of the $800,000 grant to repair the Nakoma Brook waterway from 2011. The various County agencies apparently just can’t find it … poof, gone.

  9. Sissy Says:

    The debris from the former Mill that, I think, burned to the ground in the 1960′ has never remediated. Seems as if the local Governing boards Town and Village felt it was ok to just throw some dirt on it and add grass seed.
    Is it neglect,or just plain neglect?

  10. Editor Says:

    As you know, there’s been an evolving approach to old construction remediation and removal of debris. The 1960s was not the 1970s nor the 1990s the 2000s. The Environmental Protection Agency didn’t exist until 1970. The current US administration and Congress are also rolling back protective regulations for clean air and water, as well as other consumer acts. So, given the general context of clean air, water, and lands, it’s hard for a small municipality to land remediation funds for current problems, let alone past actions + difficult to allocate current resources to clean up debris when those funds are needed to provide on-going goods and services for the residents. Something somewhere must be cut or lost entirely.

    Also remember that Ramapo and Rockland chose Torne Valley as the site for the town/county dump, er, converted Superfund Site, er, recycling Center. Plus recall that years of using these parts as a sort of dump for construction and other materials (see the Ford Motor Co. toxic paint sludge trail) has exacerbated the problem. Making general making improvements, such as the leveling and carting off of old debris, is an expensive correction of past misdeeds.

  11. Bob Easton Says:

    While it seems that we are wandering away from that pile of rubbish to other piles of rubbish. Yet, all the wanderings show one thing: a pattern of our Village officials failing to take care of our property.

    It seems all too easy for them to point fingers at someone else, some other part of government, some other agency … and then to placate us, ask those other agency officials in for questioning.

    What’s the point of inviting the head of some other agency in for questioning when we really ought to be asking our own village officials why they didn’t have our backs, why they didn’t notice a pile of rubbish for 5 years, why they didn’t stop property destruction in progress. (Eagle Valley, Rt 17 North, etc.)

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