“A local sewer district and the town of Ramapo are at the center of a growing controversy over hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars paid for work never completed to remove soil — some of it contaminated — stockpiled for years in public view.
Rockland County officials are scrambling to figure out why Ramapo has yet to remove 35,000 cubic yards of soil in four locations for the Rockland Sewer District 1 after the town was paid $400,000 in 2012 to do it. Those piles are now approximately 15,500 cubic yards in size.
Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, who was and remains a member of the sewer district’s board of commissioners, did not return a call seeking comment.
The soil is piled in three places in Hillburn and one at the Sloatsburg Community Fields.
All four locations at one point tested positive in varying degrees for contaminants, said Michael Saber, assistant director of the sewer district, as he spoke before the district’s board on Thursday. He said he was unable to specifically name the contaminants.
The district’s board of commissioners also passed resolutions Thursday to conduct a forensic audit of the district’s financial practices, and to authorize the county attorney to take action to recoup funds from Ramapo.
Clarkstown town Supervisor George Hoehmann, the new chairman of the district’s board of commissioners, said the board will also seek to conduct its own testing of the soil piles that will be reviewed by the DEC.
“We are going to take whatever steps that are necessary to ensure the integrity of Sewer District No. 1 and … ensure a review of this matter,” Hoehmann said.
Hoehmann said in a phone conversation earlier this week that the sewer district opened bids to find a contractor to remove the soil in January 2011. Eleven businesses submitted bids.
The lowest responsible bid came in from a Ramapo business for approximately $830,000, he said.
But later that month the bids were scrapped in favor of an agreement with the town of Ramapo to sort and remove the soil, Hoehmann said.
Ramapo was awarded the contract for approximately $800,000 later in 2011, Hoehmann said. The town was paid half the contract amount — $400,000 — in early 2012 to remove the soil within six months.
Ramapo requested extensions twice, and the soil remains.”
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