Saugerties C&D dumps raided by DEC; operator gives critics an eyeful

In this image taken from a home security camera across Route 212 from Joe Karloys’ dump site, Karolys can be seen at far right exposing his buttocks to onlookers.

After obtaining the proper warrants, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials finally got access last Friday morning to the Saugerties construction and demolition debris dump operated by Joe Karolys.

State officials had been trying to get on to the Route 212 property to do testing of the materials dumped there; with five DEC police vehicles parked in front of the property, blocking the driveway; a video of the proceedings shows state officials collecting two five-gallon buckets of fill. Samples from the Karolys sites on Fel Qui and Goat Hill roads were also taken.

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The town of Saugerties, spurred on by complaints and worries from neighbors that the material being brought there — estimated by state officials at over 20,000 cubic yards — may contain toxins that may contaminate nearby wells, are trying to get the operation shut down in court, but are awaiting a ruling from state Supreme Court.

We have not gotten any specific information about what the DEC did,” said Town Supervisor Fred Costello Jr. Tuesday. “We didn’t get a briefing yet.”

While Karolys, who filed a notice of claim against the town, reserving the right to sue Saugerties for allegedly defaming him and unlawfully interfering with his business, couldn’t stop the inspections from taking place, he did apparently offer his opinion on what was going on. At 10:13 a.m., a security camera from across Route 212 captured him pulling down his pants and underwear and displaying his buttocks to, published reports state, a Daily Freeman reporter.

“I don’t know how he can tell my behind from anyone else’s,” said Karolys when he was asked what inspired the rude gesture. “I never met the man.”

Later that day, Karolys gloated in a Facebook post: “Did anyone see that Moon [sic] yesterday?” Also later that day, a sign reading “#lovethyneighbor (no exceptions)” appeared on the site.

The DEC says the operation has been in violation of its dumping rules since 2016, and that the dumping site on Goat Hill Road is unsanctioned. But in the wake of Friday’s raid, this week the agency wasn’t saying much: “On May 17, DEC inspected three Karolys properties, including its registered C&D facility, in the town of Saugerties,” an agency spokeswoman wrote in an email to Ulster Publishing. “DEC is investigating these sites to determine compliance with DEC’s regulations. If violations are found, DEC will undertake enforcement action, including potential penalties, to protect public health and the environment.”

Since the subpoenaed samples were taken, Karolys has taken to social media, calling out Costello and posting photos of the town transfer station, a village of Saugerties collection site on High Street that visibly contains tires, garbage, insulation, laminate flooring and outdoor carpeting along with concrete, asphalt pavement and dirt. He has sent Ulster Publishing a spate of text messages and emails pointing fingers at other facilities within the town.

“It’s up to the town of Saugerties to keep their transfer station in order, but it’s wrong to compare an unpermitted unregulated dump on private property in a residential area to a town transfer station,” said Catskill Mountainkeeper strategic advisor Kate Hagerman in response to the posts.

“We operate under DEC guidelines and we are annually inspected,” said Costello. “When we do something wrong, we correct it, there is no comparison to [Karolys’ operation]. If a homeowner is renovating a bathroom and it ends up at the transfer station, it is not comparable to bringing fill from out of state, for monetary gain.”

“Why does the town refuse to acknowledge there are multiple other businesses in the town accepting out-of-town materials (some from the same exact facilities in NYC that I am)? Are they putting all the focus on me to protect these others? If they are going to test they should test all of them,” wrote Karolys. “You don’t check one kid in the whole school for head lice — it just doesn’t make sense. Why only me? The town wants all the focus on me to protect itself and all the good ol’ boys.”

“It’s a bait and switch,” Costello said of Karolys’ accusations about other illegal and/or improper dump sites in town. “We all worry about our own sphere and he should too.”

Karolys also sent this reporter an email on May 16, answering a series of questions about the nature of his business sent on April 15.

“The material is coming out of NYSDEC-approved fill transfer stations I am confident that it is uncontaminated,” he wrote when asked whether he conducts his own tests on his C&D material. “The material generally tested prior to starting a job in [New York City], and the NYSDEC and NYC Sanitation department check the facilities on a weekly basis for compliance. Any contaminated or ‘Hot’ loads are sent to the proper facilities out of state directly from the site in NYC.”

Karolys said that when material is first brought to his Route 212 site, the central site where fill material is brought before it is distributed to Karolys’ other properties on 90 Goat Hill Road and 33 and 43 Fel Qui Road, it’s first visually inspected for “unauthorized waste.” He said that he only accepts “RUCARBS” — recognizable uncontaminated concrete, asphalt, rock, brick and soil. If any signs of spills or odors are detected, he said, it is automatically rejected.

Karolys: My family lives here

“One thing I can say to hopefully reassure my neighbors and the entire community is that I live here full-time with my wife and children,” said Karolys, whose home is nestled among mounds of fill at the Route 212 site. “There is a misconception that I am some out of town guy that’s dumping garbage in the woods and eventually I’m going to run away. That’s entirely not true. I grew up here … We have two kids that go to Saugerties Jr./Sr. High. We built a beautiful home on our property at 1446 Route 212. We are not going anywhere. If I thought for a second any of this material would harm my wife, kids, or neighbors, I wouldn’t be doing this.”

Karolys lamented that the recent attention brought to his business has impacted the lives of his entire family. He called a May 14 community forum held in the Saugerties High auditorium, attended by concerned neighbors and officials from several levels of government, was a “slap in the face” for his two children, a 14-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son, who attend the school: “The school shouldn’t have allowed that to go on where my kids are entitled to receive an education free from bias.” He alleges that a parent-teacher conference was held with the school’s principal present after a teacher made off-color comments about his father’s operation in class.

“Our lives have changed significantly since all of the push back from the town began — people look at my family and I like we are monsters,” he wrote. “It’s difficult to even go to a grocery store or gas station without having people make rude remarks or just give us nasty looks. My business has suffered as I think people are afraid to hire me because they don’t want to get into trouble.”

“Ultimately we need a resolution for this,” Costello said. “There are a lot of people whose property and wells … they have questions we can’t answer and we need the help of the DEC and other agencies to get those answers.”

There are 14 comments

  1. Jaymes Nohns

    He pulled his pants down and “Mooned” a daily Freeman reporter? Let me get this straight…..we are supposed to take this immature clown’s word that this whole thing is totally safe and on the up and up? It’s a shame that his 5 year old mentality to this situation is something he can’t comprehend. Mr. Karolys….we already have a transfer station…..it has been there much longer than you have been on this Earth…..we don’t want another transfer station just because you think it’s fun to make your neighbor’s upset. The jig is up, we know what you are about now…..just another local guy who wants to make a name for himself. Well, with this last stunt you have accomplished that. A total clown..

  2. Joseph Karolys

    Why does Fred Costello have such a difficult time admitting any wrong doing by the town. When there was a water leak flooding a home on Redwood Rd in Barclay Heights, Costello swore for weeks it was ground water even though the water tested positive for chlorine. They finally had to bring in the Town of Ulster Water Department to find and fix the problem, a broken town pipe. Costello continues to make excuses on behalf of the Town. In regards to the Town Transfer Station on 212, I have posted pictures on my facebook page showing the mess there; Tires, metal, garbage, plastic, asbestos siding, insulation, fuel and propane tanks all mixed with dirt. Costello said: “We operate under DEC guidelines and we are annually inspected, “When we do something wrong, we correct it, there is no comparison to [Karolys’ operation]. Their inspector must be blind because Ray Charles could see all of this crap. And it has been there for years. I have owned my property next door on Fel Qui Rd. since 2009, and spent time doing work on the land for the previous owner prior to that time. My wife Rachel (Bach) Karolys was employed by the Town of Saugerties and she worked under Marie Post at the animal shelter until 2010. She would regularly walk the dogs around the property and I would come in on weekends and volunteer/ help her. A lot of the rubbish on the Town’s property has been there since before that time, so over a decade. You mean to tell me the inspectors never noticed? Another thing I can remember them doing is cutting apart air conditioners and refrigerators to separate out the copper and aluminum. They had no freon recovery system, the refrigerant would just spray all over and evaporate into the atmosphere. The whole place is littered with trash that blows out of the uncovered dumpsters, and it blows onto my adjoining property. Costello goes on to say: “If a homeowner is renovating a bathroom and it ends up at the transfer station, it is not comparable to bringing fill from out of state, for monetary gain.” The fact is I am not bringing anything in from out of state. But yes, I am in business for monetary gain. Just like the Town charges people to dump at the Transfer Station, I need to make a profit so I can support my family. Mr. Costello works for the Town for “monetary gain”, he is not a volunteer. He sells food and drink at his establishment Sue’s Restaurant for “monetary gain”, it is not a soup kitchen for the homeless. According to the Town transfer Station website, they charge $15/ yard to dump clean fill. My tipping fees are much less than that, so is the town upset that I am taking business away by proving a cheaper location to tip clean fill? There is also a separate section on their fee schedule for C&D materials. Why are they considering my clean fill materials C&D when they do not contain any of the items they are calling C&D? I copied and pasted the following form their website fee schedule:
    Clean Fill (Per Yard) $15.00
    Construction and Demolition (C&D) – Contractor Bag (50-55 Gallon) $20.00
    – Shingles, Sheet Rock, Laminates (Per Yard)$65.00
    – Other C&D – Wood, Glass, Fiberboard, etc. (Per Yard)$45.00

    Also if no wastes are to be deposited or processed in the Town of Saugerties unless they originated in the Town why is the Town actively soliciting wastes from Woodstock and Shandaken. Here are their permitting fees copied and pasted:
    Annual (January-December) Town of Saugerties and Shandaken Residents $35.00
    Annual Permit for Town of Woodstock Residents $55.00
    Additional Permit(s) for Vehicles in Same Household $7.00
    One-Day Pass $7.00

    Is the “One day pass” available to anyone who wants to dump there no matter where they reside?

    The Town is operating a second transfer station on North St., even though they have made it clear that all wastes must be deposited and processed at the 212 transfer station only. The Transfer Station on North St. is a welcome place for illegal dumping. I drove right in the other day, the gate was wide open with no one in sight. I took several pictures of the conditions there, which are similar to the transfer station on 212 but not quite as horrendous. The town seems to have no concern about the materials/ fill/ solid waste/ C&D or whatever you want to call it that they have on their properties, or on any other private property in the Town for that matter. There are plenty of other persons and businesses that bring in materials from out of the area on a regular if not everyday basis. I would be willing to say that every single excavating contractor around is guilty of bringing back broken concrete or blacktop from a job outside the town and using it for fill or road base. Yet all of these people operate without any question or hassle. The Town is selectively enforcing their laws and singling out one person, me, to target. Mr. Costello fails to mention that at one time there was quite a hole behind his car wash, and everything and anything was dumped in there to fill it in. The Town dumped old culvert pipes, and regularly deposits fresh unused asphalt pavement when they have leftovers, sometimes 8 tons at a time. I was there one day a few months ago and he had one of the good ol’ Glasco boys backhoe there, pushing debris in the hole. I’m sure since I mentioned this publicly a few months back, it all has been covered over like it never happened. Maybe if my last name ended in a vowel Mr. Costello would look at my operation differently. The bottom line is the Town should enforce it’s laws equally. And look at the crooked hypocrite politicians who are always pointing the spotlight on someone else to shadow their sins.

  3. Jaymes Nohns

    How many times has the Town of Woodstock dumped “Clean fill” at Hansen Lumber on Glasco turnpike? Also used to bury garbage and C&D waste…Google maps shows all the piles….and it is a bunch..The Town of Saugerties is clearly taking fill from out of town at multiple locations, both on a private and public sector….how about people get into a real profession?

  4. Joseph Karolys

    I would also like to know why Mike Ferraro has a “home security” camera in his cupola window that is zoomed in on my property, instead of his own? How does what goes on in my yard, my front porch or my shop affect his homes “security”? Does his camera have the ability to zoom into the windows where my wife and children sleep? How did this newspaper know that he had this camera in place? I feel the sanctity of my home is being violated by this man’s surveillance system which is also an invasion of my family’s privacy. My wife and children are afraid in their own home. This is not a home security system, this is the work of a peeping Tom. Shame on you Ferraro. You are a creep.

    1. Jaymes Nohns

      Mr. Karolys, why be worried about Mr. Ferraro’s camera being pointed towards your house? If everything is on the up an up, you should have nothing to worry about, right? He pointed that towards your direction for a reason……because something isn’t quite right with the whole situation, people are asking questions…..they deserve answers from you on the handling of your redundant business….

  5. Helen Francello

    The main issue aside, dropping your pants to a reporter, and making such ignorant claims as, “You don’t check one child in the whole school for head lice”, and, “Maybe if my last name ended in a vowel Mr. Costello would look at my operation differently” tends to deflate your credibility. When all is said and done, we will wait to see how what the reports have to say regarding toxins in the samples. If you are innocent, then, proper apologies should be offered. If you are guilty, then the consequences need to be dealt with by your business. And, yes, my name ends with a vowel, and it never got me special treatment.

  6. Steven L. Fornal

    Mr. Karolys is typical of the “property rights” folk that are all about THEIR rights and to hell with your rights. Just by the photos provided, his operations devalue entire neighborhood. His conduct is disgraceful. His level of dumping is obviously in violation of town code. To have such disdain for his neighbors says all that needs to be said about him.

    BTW, pointing out other alleged violations of code isn’t productive in proving YOUR innocence.

    And as for your kids? I’m sure if they’re experiencing troubles in school it’s because of your poor example as to how to behave in civilized society. That’s on YOU. Man up…

  7. Guy DeGennaro

    Obviously most people in this Town do not know Mr. Karolys. Joe is a fine upstanding man. A family man. He has done a lot of quality work for me over the years. I know for a fact he has spent tens of thousands of dollars on engineering for the proper permits but the town refuses to approve his SWPPP or his Commercial Entrance plan as that would bring him into compliance. The Town is doing everything they can to hurt this man and his family, while his neighbors the Rothes and Kiniry are in similar businesses and process materials from out of Town without any issue. Did anyone notice Kiniry took down the “Zena Materials and Recycling” Sign he had as soon as this litigation started? What happens to all the dirt Mullens digs out when replacing old Central Hudson gas lines? Not to mention many others such as Merritt Construction and DePietro who bring stuff in from the city daily. That stuff gets dumped over an embankment and or reused elsewhere at a later date. I also understand Randy Richers has opened a similar facility to Mr. Karolys at Dukes Sand Pit on DeWitt Mills Rd in Kingston, and Woodstock Landscaping is filling in behind their yard which can be seen from the Beesmer furniture store on 28. It seems the pressure has been put on Joe so all these other people who are older, have been in business longer and therefore have more money can continue to operate unnoticed. It’s a shame the Town and the DEC don’t enforce equally. Mr. Karolys has the same rights as all these other businesses, and believe me, there are plenty more than I mentioned here.

    1. Jaymes Nohns

      Guy,
      If you are going to start a business…..isn’t the proper procedure to go down to the Town Hall, and get the needed parameters, and permits to start such a business? Or do we start a business, then try to make it compliant at some point down the road? If I want to put up a building on my property, do I put it up, then go to the Town Hall for a permit? Bottom line, this whole thing is seedy…..and everyone knows it…..he was trying to avoid the whole process…end of story

  8. Lea Cullen Boyer

    Would NYSDEC please test the construction debris that’s been dumped in the wetland on 23A in Palenville?

    Region 4 should do due dilligence of equal value to that of Region 3. NYSDEC went to the site and as far as I can tell looked around and had the owner grade the debris. Which seems like a less than thorough response.

    If you know of questionable dump sites please post. It’s way past time for The Catskills to stop being a literal dumping ground for downstate’s mess.

    1. Jaymes Nohns

      1350 and 1346 Glasco turnpike, needs to be tested for petroleum in both soil and well water of surrounding areas.

  9. Joseph Karolys

    I find it absolutely astonishing that a week after I publicly post pictures of the horrendous conditions at the Town of Saugerties Transfer Station on my Facebook, and write about it on here, they hire Mike Rothe to bring in his excavator and tracked horizontal grinder to clean up their mess. The piles of debris have been there for years…all of a sudden they have a concern to grind it up. Is the Town trying to hide something? On a second note, Im glad a local guy Mike Rothe got the job. Those 2 machines earn a few thousand dollars a day and Mike has a lot invested and he deserves to make that money with his equipment. However, did this job go out to bid? There are other contractors that have this type of equipment and are capable of handling the work. It seems like this was another inside shady deal, as usual for the officials of Saugerties. This is not a petty cash account deal here, this is serious money to grind those piles. Maybe its time some of the concerned citizens and watch groups check whats happening with the Town. Because something fishy is going on.

  10. Lee McGrath

    This is a Witch Hunt! You all had better get in line to apologize to the Karolys Family after nothing is found.

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