Another lawsuit filed to stop creation of New Paltz water district

(File photo by Lauren Thomas)

Another lawsuit — the fourth, thus far — has been filed to stop the creation of town water district 5 on Plains Road in New Paltz.

Village mayor Tim Rogers, among those personally named, read a carefully-crafted statement about the new action at the April 11 Village Board meeting, explaining that this time Ingrid Beer, together with neighbors Gail Freedman and Donna Liebman, seek annulment of a water withdrawal permit that was issued by state officials in February.

In his statement, Rogers said that the several cases have been “all filed in an attempt to prevent the local, city and state governments from carrying out their obligation to serve the public before, during and after the scheduled aqueduct shutdowns,” which are supposed to begin later this year and continue for two more. Later shutdowns are expected to last ten weeks apiece, although this year’s has been shortened. This suit primarily targets the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, but local officials “will nonetheless be once again compelled to spend yet additional taxpayer resources defending this process.”

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Village treasurer Nancy Branco advised that $17,000 in village funds have been spent to date on litigation around water district 5, and that $3,000 to $5,000 is the estimate for defending against the new action. Town comptroller Jean Gallucci said that $76,408 has come from town coffers; town council members have authorized $12,000 in new expenditures in light of the recent suit. Should the water district move forward, that money should be reimbursed from the DEP budget. Adam Bosch, spokesman for the DEP, was unavailable for comment by press time.

Town supervisor Neil Bettez also raised the question whether attorney Marty Rosenbaum, representing the plaintiffs, is even allowed to press this suit against state officials, as in his full-time job he works as senior team counsel to the state assembly.

The statement, signed by trustees Dennis Young and William Murray, deputy mayor KT Tobin and mayor Tim Rogers, was also submitted as a letter to the editor. It follows below.

Another lawsuit to defend

The Village of New Paltz and each board member have been named in a new lawsuit filed by Plains Road residents Ingrid Beer, Gail Freedman and Donna Liebman seeking annulment of a valid water withdrawal permit issued on February 26, 2018 by the New York State DEC. The permit allows the Town of New Paltz to withdraw 20 gallons per minute from 101 Plains Road in connection with newly created Water District #5 and to withdraw additional water during planned maintenance shutdowns of the Catskill Aqueduct.

Also named in the suit are the Town of New Paltz and each board member, New York State DEC and its commissioner, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and its commissioner, NYC Mayor De Blasio and the owners of 101 Plains Road.

This is the fourth in a series of lawsuits dating back to 2014 filed by Ms. Beer as the primary litigant challenging many of the legal and necessary actions taken by the village, town, DEC, DEP and others in connection with preparations for the planned aqueduct shutdown to ensure that our residents will not experience water service interruptions at any time. The initial challenge to the preliminary steps taken by the village in connection with exploring alternate water sources was dismissed by the Ulster County Supreme Court in 2015.

Litigation has ensued in the Supreme and Appellate courts since that time in varying forms, all filed in an attempt to prevent the local, city and state governments from carrying out their obligation to serve the public before, during and after the scheduled aqueduct shutdowns.

Recently, the town successfully obtained a full dismissal by Judge Cahill of Ms. Beer’s challenge to the establishment of Water District #5.

While the village is not the primary party to the current lawsuit claiming that the DEC water withdrawal permit was improperly issued, we, along with the other respondents, will nonetheless be once again compelled to spend yet additional taxpayer resources defending this proceeding. The case will be vigorously defended as we are of the opinion that the DEC and all other government agencies involved in this project have acted in accordance with applicable law and in the best interests of the public.

Tim Rogers, Mayor
Dr. KT Tobin, Deputy Mayor
Dennis Young, Trustee
William Murray, Trustee
New Paltz

There are 14 comments

  1. Loise T.

    Lovely. For the thousands who will rely on alternate sources of water when the desperately needed upgrades to the water system are done you’ll know who to go talk to if you don’t have access to water. There’s one in every bunch, isn’t there. Shameful how some folks think of themselves vs. the greater community around them and of which they are a part. Tisk. Tisk.

      1. bronosaur romp

        …and that logic, extended, means nothing else will ever be built or accomplished.

        This whole case is exhibit A against giving ordinary residents the power to stop action taken on behalf of all. This town needs a backup water source but bad faith, poor leadership, selfishness and lack of community spirit has rendered its politics completely non-functional. (This dynamic is also why action on climate change is impossible.)

  2. MaryAnn Tozzi

    I think the real shame is that the town wants to pit neighbors against each other! I’m selfish too because there is no way I would let you put my well in danger — not even for the “greater good” it’s not my neighbors job to supply my water!

    1. bronosaur romp

      Considering the entire town is entirely populated, and we need a backup water source, anything proposed will, by the rules of space and time, necessarily be located on parcel of land with neighbors. Those few neighbors are going to complain. What then? Nothing? Ever?

      Maybe, but if that’s “pitting neighbor against neighbor,” then everything is.

  3. FunkieGunkie

    Lawsuits are a real problem. Especially when your rights are being violated. Mohonk Preserve, the Shawangunk Conservancy, and thier Friends of the Shawangunks have been suing a local couple for over 22 years with multiple fraudulent claims to prime real estate. See www.mohonk.info

  4. Villager

    Fifty years ago NYC announced they were shutting down the aqueduct water to New P:alto. Out of 74 municipalities getting NYC water, only New Paltz, did nothing in preparation for that eventuality. What is most dangerous to the public is the lack of initiative by the New Paltz Fire Commisioners to keep the fire-hydrants full of H2O? And, as we all know b y now, the New Paltz Fire Commissioners are the Village Board members. If the fire department of New Paltz is ranked in the bottom 20% of all the fire departments in the Empire State, good, let the village keep spending tax payers’ money fighting law suits The sooner the Village goes bankrupt, the sooner the Village can be in the bottom 40% of the Empire State. They loot anyways.

  5. John Bath

    Lake Mohonk is the only reliable water source other than New York City for us. Draining it would float my boat, and thats without the life preservers.

  6. Town Resident

    Well the residents complaining have a point. It is an inconvenience and a potential eyesore to their properties. And could lower their property values. With that in mind they might also remember they have some decent people as their local elected officials. If the town and village officials weren’t decent they could do what NYC and other government entities did when the watershed was developed. Just use Eminent Domain and seize all their land including their houses and evict them. All perfectly legal and they get the current market value. But understand the land is seized first…you can argue forever in court about the value but you will be kicked out. The greater good always–always– trumps individual rights. Sorry

  7. pre law student s.u.n.y.

    very complex, very confusing, good luck resolving this one. In NYC we drink this same water. Should not be dry here.
    Not sure who really is 100% liable to sue in this case?
    Will follow this one to learn.

    1. Pons Assinorum

      The water, the pipeline and the water is owned by New York City Bureau of Water. New York City made a contract for water supply to the Village of New Paltz, not the Town of New Paltz. The Village, in violation of its contract with New York City, sells water to all outside the village’s boundaries and New York City has turned its head about it thru four water districts in the town (water districts do not exist in a village municipality. no such animal in a village.) So townies who are hooked to village water see on their real-property tax bill a charge for their water district. That money is collected by the elected to office town clerk, who in turn, puts that money in a bag, and drives over to the Village Hall to turn it over to the village clerk, who is not elected, but appointed by the mayor of the village. The university pays a lot of money for water,and the State Of New York, which owns the university which is in the village which is in the town which is in the county which is in the state which is in the country , gives grants to the Village and the Feds give grant to the Village ins tread of learning how to read a real property assessment roll. You only need fourth-grade elementary school algebra, math and first grade Hebrew school to understand it.

  8. Villager 13

    Get somebody from the New York City Water Bureau to give a public reading of their contract for water with New Paltz? The contract does NOT allow for “water districts” at all, nor does it allow for individual hookups to all of Main Street from the Village line to the thruway. And, doesn’t allow for New York City to b e subsidizing by its real property taxes paid in the town of new paltz of all commercial businesses real property taxed at the same rate and without income capitalization of the town lawyer. Wheres the public document for the public of the water contract?

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