The owner/operator of several controversial construction and demolition dumps in Saugerties, which the town, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and, most recently, the Ulster County Department of Health have being trying to close for months, was arrested and charged with illegal dumping, Saugerties town police said. But according to Town Supervisor Fred Costello Jr., trucks bearing construction and demolition material are still coming on and off the property as of Tuesday, Aug. 6.
According to police, on Friday, Aug. 2, officers spotted “a number” of tractor-trailers dumping materials at 6 a.m. Friday morning on Karolys’ 1446 Route 212 property. Officers then stopped the vehicles and confirmed with the drivers that the materials dumped had been transported up from New York City.
As a result of their investigation, police said, the Saugerties Building Department with the assistance of Saugerties police issued the three violations against Karolys that afternoon.
Costello said that like many things in life, timing was key. “We have been restrained by the court order for the whole year basically, since February, so we’re not allowed to interfere with this activity between seven o’clock in the morning and three in the afternoon,” said Costello. “The real thrust of the tickets were the violation of the executive order. Karolys was issued that ticket, which is an indication of him not taking a direction from a public official. It is a violation of the town dumping and zoning law, and because those violations took place outside of the protection of the restraining order, they will go to town court again. I think what this does is just another level of memorialization that this activity has occurred outside of this restraining order that was granted by the court.”
Costello said that since July 27, 62 trucks have come on and off the property, as evidenced by neighbor’s surveillance footage and eyewitness accounts.
“There has to be some implication for the ignorance of this law by the town Zoning Board of Appeals, the county, the state, the DEC and the court,” said Costello. “He just doesn’t seem to want to subject himself to the rule of law, he just wants to do what he wants to do.”
Driven by concerns voiced by neighbors about noise caused by truck traffic in and out of the four sites and about the possibility of harmful chemicals getting into surrounding well water, the town has been trying to halt the operations in court, but are waiting for a ruling from state Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott. (A hearing regarding the order is currently set for Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 9:30 a.m. at the Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston.)
The state Department of Environmental Conservation says the operation has been in violation of its dumping rules since 2016. Town officials also say Karolys’ dumps are breaking the townwide anti-dumping law as well. Karolys hasn’t taken this lying down — he’s filed a notice of claim in state Supreme Court, reserving his right to sue the town for, among other things, defamation and violating his rights to use his property.
Samples taken by the DEC in May after the agency got a court order to go onto the dumpsites resulted last month in the agency ordering Karolys to “immediately begin removing all solid waste” from his three sites. Among contaminants found in six samples taken from the three properties, according to DEC documents, are heavy metals like mercury, lead and zinc; coal ash, coal and slag; and nine chemicals deemed to be “probable carcinogens,” including the banned-for-decades pesticide DDT.
In a letter to Karolys, the agency spelled out 39 total violations of state clean water and solid waste disposal laws.
Police said Karolys was charged Friday with “violating New York State executive law; violating Town of Saugerties dumping law; [and] violating Town of Saugerties zoning regulation in special use districts.” Police said he was released pending an August 22 appearance in town court, set for 2 p.m.