The town of Saugerties is still waiting to collect fines and cleanup costs from Joseph Karolys for illegally dumping construction and demolition debris.
Karolys owes the town $2000 for illegal dumping at four different parcels near the Saugerties-Woodstock borders, after charges were negotiated from three counts down to two in Marlborough Town Court.
Much like a dumping case in the Woodstock hamlet of Shady, the two Saugerties town justices recused themselves and the matter was referred to then-Ulster County Judge Donald Williams. In Woodstock’s case, County Judge Bryan Rounds sent the matter to Shandaken Town Court.
“The fines are a little disappointing,” said Saugerties Town Supervisor Fred Costello.
“We are getting favorable judgments, but the fines are nowhere near the damage done or our legal fees.”
The Saugerties Zoning Board of Appeals issued stop-work orders in late 2018 for the processing site at 1446 Route 212 and dumping sites at 33 and 43 Fee Qui Road and 90 Goat Hill Road for violating local law prohibiting C&D waste from outside the town. Karolys appealed the decision and the orders were stayed until Supreme Court Justice Richard Mott upheld them in December 2019.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a stop-work order in July 2019 because Karolys did not have a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit (SPEDES) for any of his properties.
When trucks continued to bring materials to his site on Route 212, Karolys said it was aggregate for site improvements.
The Ulster County Health Department issued its own stop-work order in August 2019 based on chemical analysis of materials taken from Karolys’ properties. It found mercury, lead, zinc, coal ash, coal and slag, and nine “probable carcinogens including the banned pesticide DDT.
Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Karolys in June 2020 for numerous and persistent violations of state solid waste and water pollution laws. “Mr. Karolys not only didn’t follow our laws, he repeatedly and flagrantly flouted them — ignoring the harms that his illegal conduct posed to the Town of Saugerties and Ulster County,” James’ office said at the time.
“This lawsuit sends a clear message that my office will not tolerate violations of New York’s public health and environmental laws.”
Costello is hopeful resolution of the lawsuit will lead to cleanup.
“We are working with the attorney general to seek civil action,” said Costello, who believes the dump on Goat Hill will need to be capped. “It is our hope they (attorney general’s office) are going to pursue this and get something positive as a result.”
Karolys’ activity has also caused problems for neighbors on Fel Qui Road, which is off John Joy Road.
Saugerties officials say dumping there has caused diversion of a stream, leading to flooding of the former town landfill and two residential properties. The Building Department issued Karolys an order to remedy.
Woodstock dumping case settled…for now
Karolys and Gina Conigliaro, wife of 10 Church Road property owner Vincent Conigliaro, pled guilty January 27 in Shandaken Town Court to one count each of illegal dumping and agreed to each pay a $1500 fine. Vincent’s charges were dropped after cooperating in the case. He says the dumping on his property was the result of collusion between Gina and Karolys and much of the activity occurred while he was away on business.
Woodstock Town Supervisor Bill McKenna has not yet revealed what comes next, but Vincent Conigliaro believes the town will now go after his soon-to-be ex-wife Gina and Karolys for cleanup expenses.
In response to criticism about a lack of town response, McKenna has said the town cannot spend taxpayer money on private property without a court decision.
Frank and Pat Eighmey, who live downhill from 10 Church Road and fell victim to a landslide of dumped construction debris, hope the guilty pleas are the leverage McKenna said the town needed to start the cleanup and recoup its costs.