Letter: A tale of two towns

Cheers to the Town of Saugerties, Ulster County, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Catskill Mountainkeeper, other groups and the NYS Attorney General’s office for fighting one owner’s illegal construction and demolition debris (C&D) landfills. People have a right to clean air, soil and water.

Ten miles north another C&D landfill in Palenville, Catskill township, had little local indignation, yet evidence has it, used the same trucking companies, and similar toxic materials were dumped. Also, the same permits were lacking. Why the lack of support for the victims in Palenville? Unlike Saugerties, the landfill in Palenville is on a huge wetlands which extends into Saugerties and purportedly its drinking water source.

Consider the following comparisons between the two owners and their landfills: Saugerties landfill owner (SLO) and Catskill landfill owner (CLO).


1. In Palenville, the CLO started bringing in C&D debris after Sandy. NYC’s mayor wanted the city cleaned up ASAP, understandably. FEMA reported that landfill owners upstate were willing to take the mess, CLO being one. (Saugerties was post-hurricanes.)

2. The CLO in Palenville is a local good old boy, well respected in his town; his late wife was a long-time employee of Catskill.

The SLO is not a local good old boy, nor well respected in his town. The two actually know each other, however, and reportedly contracted with the same trucking companies.

3. When CLO was fined for unpermitted dumping, a cleanup allowed his fine to be reduced significantly, this cleanup involving burying the materials on site. The dust this created added further toxins to already poisoned neighbors. (Heads up regarding “clean up” dust, Saugerties!) Both CLO and SLO continued illicit dumping.

4. Palenville is in DEC region 4 and Saugerties part of DEC region 3. DEC 4 did minimal toxins testing in Palenville (and nowhere near the wetlands) and law enforcement and town officials did little to naught to stop the dumping. DEC 3 was diligent regarding testing in Saugerties and the law enforcement and town officials were on top of SLO. One DEC 4 rep in Palenville was a crony of CLO, referringto him by nickname. SLO wasn’t so lucky.

5. The residents near the landfills in Saugerties are more numerous, established and respected. The residents near the landfill in Palenville are fewer, less well off and were gas-lighted by the Catskill good-old-boy network when they spoke out against being poisoned.

6. The Palenville landfill abuts a huge wetlands on the Kaaterskill, part of the Hudson Estuary system, yet solicitation of NGOs were met with minimal concern. Saugerties received a lot of NGO help.

7. One wonders why SLO is righteously castigated as a scoundrel while CLO was able to create a dump with impunity. One wonders why the fighters in Saugerties are seen as righteous, while those in Palenville are seen as lying troublemakers

Does anyone care?

Mary Finneran

There are 2 comments

  1. Bill H

    I care. I have to admit to not knowing anything about the issue in Palenville that you so clearly laid out for us. I am committed to learning more about it. I am also committed to learning more about the other cases here in Ulster County that folks have brought up in the comments sections. One argument is that Karolys is being picked on because he is “little guy” and that the bigger, more politically connected businesses seem to be allowed to break the law. (Of course, I think the answer is not to allow Karolys to continue breaking the law, but to hold all others polluters accountable.)

    The behavior of these polluters should incite outrage in all of us.

  2. Resident of P-Ville

    I also care, and in fact live in Palenville, and know not of any type of landfill or dump anywhere. Could you please give an address, as it is a small hamlet, and I do not know where you would put a landfill here. I do not smell, hear, nor see a landfill. I do not see any big trucks stopping anywhere in Palenville. Are you sure you have the right hamlet? Where is the landfill in Palenville, NY?

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