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.”
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