Demolition of Orange County Government Center begins

Mid-Hudson News reported that demolition began on a division of the Paul Rudolph designed Orange County Government Center on November 6, 2015. It reported "a giant crane ripping down chunks of the building" had commenced "in hopes of demolishing the center portion as soon as possible."

The article and related photos are available from the link below.

Democratic Alliance NY update...

Vincent Ferri prepared the following which is now posted on the Democratic Alliance NY website:

— BLOCK-BUSTER designLAB Architect's
RESIGNATION LETTER TO PHIL CLARK
OF CPL MADE PUBLIC

— DEC IGNORES CLEAR PROOF OF ADDITIONAL SOIL DISTURBANCE AND ILLEGAL SEGMENTATION

— OCDPW AND OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATION COLLUDE TO PREVENT PUBLIC ACCESS TO OFFICIAL SITE PLAN

Although the DEC decision to not require a SPDES Permit and a SWPPP took place in April 2015, the DEC never saw a site plan until a fraudulent plan was generated by Phil Clark on 17 July 2015.

The DEC received that plan subsequently, and reaffirmed their previous improper decision. They also ignored:

1. two independent SOIL STUDIES undertaken for the County and CPL, respectively which established the NEED for replacement of unstable soils at various locations on the project site;

2. the need for flood mitigation and the installation of significant flood mitigation infrastructure requiring substantial SOIL DISTURBANCE [the same soil studies];

3. they also ignored statements by engineers for the manufacturer of "TuffTrack Greenway Pavers" who declared that the material used to justify 0 SF of soil disturbance for a 64,000 SF parking facility is:

  • Unsuitable for Municipal Parking;

  • Unsuitable for Daily Vehicular Traffic;

  • Requires significant Flood Mitigation and Flood Control Infrastructure [Soil Disturbance] when installed over impervious soils;

  • Cannot be plowed in winter closer than 2 inches above the installation;

  • Requires the Heavy Duty version of the recommended installation needing 8 inches of excavation [more Soil Disturbance];

  • GRASS WILL NOT GROW IN THE CELLS WITH DAILY USE.

The latest slap in the face to Orange County Taxpayers is the failure of the County DPW to release for inspection the OFFICIAL SITE PLAN AS IT EXISTS AS PART OF THE PUBLISHED CONSTRUCTION DOCUMENTS AND IN CONTEXT WITH THOSE DOCUMENTS.

EVEN WORSE, while we contend that the DEC has never see the real site plan, and maintain that the plan given to them after 17 July 2015 is fraudulent and deficient, THE OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATION WHICH HAS A SIGNING AUTHORITY ON THE PROJECT AND A FUNDING COMPONENT [BOTH OF WHICH SHOULD TRIGGER FEDERAL OVERSIGHT UNDER SECTION 106 REVIEW] has gone out of its way to prevent public access to the real construction documents till 27 AUGUST.

— WHAT WILL BE LEFT TO PROTECT ON 27 AUGUST?

— IS THAT DATE THE DATE THAT JUDGE CAHILL IS WAITING FOR TO RENDER A DECISION ON OUR ARTICLE 78 PETITION?

SOMETHING STINKS HERE!

The latest post from Activist Vincent Ferri

Goshen Environmental Activist Vincent Ferri has posted on his facebook page the following commentary on the demolition contractors beginning to strip the Orange County Government Center down to its shell...

What you see below is the result of a CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY TO EVADE REGULATORY OVERSIGHT.
The agencies that have engaged in this CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY are: NYS Unified Court System’s Office of Court Administration, NYSDEC, NYSOPRHP, NYSDHS, Orange County, The Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Orange County Emergency Management Department.
— The OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATION under the influence of Judge Alan Scheinkman and Judge Gail Prudenti: I specifically accuse Scheinkman of collusion with the County and CPL, and with collaboration to deny the plaintiffs in the Section 51 Municipal Waste & Corruption suit and the current Article 78 Petition access to DUE PROCESS.
Scheinkman is also guilty of coercing the County with threats of sanctions, even though he himself was involved in the process of delaying the project because of his collaborations with Phil Clark and the County to defeat the renovation mandate.
One could consider Alan Scheinkman the leader of a criminal mob, a mobster who uses his powers as a judge and the 2nd Department head administrative judge to deny due process, to saddle taxpayers with an unnecessary additional tax burden and who has engaged in collusion in the effort to conspire in the commission of criminal fraud. Scheinkman needs to be thrown off of the bench and prosecuted.
— The DEC, who’s Natalie Brown incompetently and in violation of many DEC regulations accepted anecdotal oral assurances of the amount of soil disturbance.
Martin Brand, Natalie Brown, Kelly Turturro and others at the DEC are involved in CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE, by not requiring the SPDES Permit for the work being done at the Government Center.
Initial complaints to the DEC in early April resulted in the presentation of a PHONY “SITE” PLAN to Ms. Brown. And, in spite of the claim of repeated visits to the site, the DEC HAS NEVER SEEN A FULLY EXECUTED SIGNED AND CERTIFIED SITE PLAN.
On the 17th of July 2015, Phil Clark ordered one of his draftsmen to print out a doctored depiction of the project site that he claimed to be the authentic site plan.
IT IS NOT! It is however, a fraudulent representation of a total Quantum of soil disturbance that does not account for the needed:
1. Flood mitigation infrastructure, claimed as needed by the County and two INDEPENDENT SOIL ENGINEERING FIRMs [one hired by Phil Clark himself]. So, now when the building floods, you know who to blame, and when your car gets damaged in the parking lots you will know who to blame.
But, remember, when they ask for additional flood mitigation after Division II is torn down, the request will constitute illegal and fraudulent segmentation of the quantum of soil disturbance. Phil Clark and the County should at that time be criminally prosecuted and fined $35,000 per day from the date of the original complaint in April of this year.
2. Unstable soils, found through the use of core sampling throughout the project site, revealed areas of unstable soils that needed to be excavated and replaced with stable fill. IT IS ALL IN THE REPORTS; IN BLACK AND WHITE FOR ANYONE TO READ, EVEN THE DEC. Those areas of unstable soils exist under portions of the foundations under existing portions of the building. Read this as additional soil disturbance.
3. A 64,000 SF parking area is listed on the bogus plan as having NO AMOUNT OF SOIL DISTURBANCE, even with the indication of the need to excavate to a depth of 4 inches over the entire 64,000 SF. [a bare minimum requirement for use by golf carts and for occasional parking. Documents available from the manufacturer recommend over 8 inches of excavation and the installation of a pervious substrate under the material for use by emergency vehicles and fire trucks.]
IS IT MAGIC OR IS IT FRAUD?
CLEARLY, IT IS FRAUD. The fantasy plan shows the use of “TUFFTRACK GREENWAY PAVERS. The DEC claimed that this is a “GREEN” solution for providing a parking facility, and PHIL CLARK IMPROPERLY SPECIFIED THIS MATERIAL TO CRIMINALLY EVADE REGULATORY OVERSIGHT. The DEC in its institutional arrogance and embarrassment for having placed itself in the position of being criminally negligent, refuses to acknowledge the engineering requirements and limitation for the use of this material as defined by the products manufacturer. In actuality like the roofing material that caused so much flooding, these Tufftrack pavers are the wrong material used in the wrong application in the wrong climate and for the wrong reasons.
The manufacturers of the material TUFFTRACK GREENWAY PAVERS made the following statements in a telephone interview:
a. Tufftrack IS NOT SUITABLE FOR SPECIFICATION IN MUNICIPAL PARKING FACILITIES,
b. Tufftrack IS NOT SUITABLE FOR DAILY VEHICULAR TRAFFIC, and the grass will not grow under the condition of daily vehicular traffic,
c. Tufftrack IS NOT SUITABLE FOR COLD CLIMATES WITH FREQUENT FREEZE THAW CYCLES AND SIGNIFICANT SNOW FALL. Snow plows must raise their blades 2 INCHES above the surface of the material. Doing that leaves TWO INCHES OF SNOW, ICE, SLUSH AND/OR A COMBINATION OF THESE MATERIALS ON WHICH TAXPAYERS OF THE COUNTY MAY BE PLACED IN JEOPARDY OF HAVING AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT. Or, the parking lot that we, the taxpayers will be paying for, for many years to come, will be closed and unusable for part of the year.
d. TUFFTRACK CANNOT BE USED OVER IMPERVIOUS SOILS WITHOUT EXTENSIVE STORM WATER FLOOD MITIGATION TO KEEP FLOOD WATERS CARRYING AUTOMOTIVE POLLUTANTS INTO THE RIO GRANDE AND SUBSEQUENTLY INTO THE WALLKILL RIVER.
Water will pool at the point where the aggregate substrate installed under Tufftrack meets the surface of impervious soils that exist under the site. This will result in lateral flow of storm water and pollutants to the area of least resistance, the Rio Grande. Any mitigation of this effect will require significant soil disturbance that will exceed the statutory limit of 1 acre.
THE DEC MADE THE WRONG DECISION WHICH AMOUNTS TO CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE, AND BROWN, BRAND AND TURTURRO ARE RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. WORSE AFTER LEARNING OF THE INAPPROPRIATE SPECIFICATION OF TUFFTRACK, I BELIEVE THEY TRANSITIONED INTO A CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY WITH PHIL CLARK TO CRIMINALLY EVADE REGULATORY REVIEW AND OVERSIGHT.
— ORANGE COUNTY: Certain members of the Orange County legislature are materially guilty of engaging in this criminal conspiracy, while others are guilty of being unresponsive to the needs of their constituents and being too cowardly to stand up for our rights and prevent unnecessary tax burdens.
— ORANGE COUNTY DPW AND THE OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATION: The real site plans were demanded by the issuance of a FOIL Request by me. they were not produced at the time the FOIL Request was returnable. and after appealing that, the site plans are still not available, because THE OFFICE OF COURT ADMINISTRATION IS PREVENTING THEM FROM BEING RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC.
I CONTEND THAT THE DEC HAS NEVER SEEN THE ACTUAL FULLY EXECUTED SIGNED AND CERTIFIED SITE PLAN. NO MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC HAS SEEN IT. AND THE COUNTY IN COLLUSION WITH CLARK AND OCA ARE STILL PREVENTING THE PUBLIC FROM SEEING THE DOCUMENT.
WHAT IS SO DAMNING IN THE SITE PLAN THAT THIS CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY HAS EVOLVED TO DENY ACCESS TO THIS DOCUMENT? WILL THE DOCUMENT BE A SMOKING GUN THAT POINTS TO THE FRAUD AND ITS PERPETRATORS. CLEARLY, designLAB Architects of Boston’s RESIGNATION LETTER CLEARLY DEFINES THE ILLEGAL MACHINATIONS OF PHIL CLARK TO COMMIT ENVIRONMENTAL FELONY FRAUD.
BUT, WILL THE COURT ACKNOWLEDGE THIS GROSS CRIMINALITY BY ISSUING AN INJUNCTION PREVENTING FURTHER WORK; WILL JUDGE CAHILL RECOGNIZE THE CONSPIRACY PORTENDED, BY DESIGNLAB’S RESIGNATION, AND WILL THE WITHHOLDING OF THE SITE PLANS PROVIDE ENOUGH REASON TO FIND IN FAVOR OF THE PLAINTIFFS?
OR, HAS JUDGE CAHILL BEEN GIVEN HIS MARCHING ORDERS FROM SCHEINKMAN, AND DELAY OR DENY DUE PROCESS UNTIL DIVISION II IS TORN DOWN AND THE EMINENTLY USABLE EXTERIOR BLOCK IS COMPLETELY DESTROYED?
— Vincent Ferri

Walls are coming down off Orange County Government Center

Chris McKenna reported in a brief article in the Times Herald-Record on August 14, 2015, that the demolition contractors have started stripping the Orange County Goverment Center down to its concrete frame. They have removed the iconic Paul Rudolph designed concrete walls as they prepare to strip the buildings to their shells. This demolition is happening while an action is pending in court to stop demolition until the project has received full state oversight to the plans.

Why aren't environment objections being investigated?

Vincent Ferri, the Goshen environmental activist, has written a letter further questioning the claims that the county will have less than an acre of soil disturbance in reconstructing the Orange County Government Center. He is questioning the claim that an acre and a half of parking will result in zero square feet of soil disturbance when it will be taking place on a known flood plain.

After having received the “Site Map” from Ms. Turturro yesterday, I commenced research on the contents of the document.

In particular, I was troubled by the quantum of soil disturbance [0 SF] at the location of the new parking facility, a 64,000 SF area partially located over the site of the old jail. It was my belief that although the specified “TUFFTRACK GRASSROAD PAVERS” are considered by the DEC to be a “GREEN” product when used properly. My contact with the NDS Corporation’s Technical Services Department indicates that the specification in this location and for this project is completely inappropriate.

The product is not designed for regular municipal parking facilities, and daily use will not maintain the growth of the grasses that would be planted there.

The manufacturer therefore does not recommend the use of this product for MUNICIPAL PARKING.

Additionally, the presence of relatively impervious soils under the proposed installation area, which is a site-wide condition, and the concomitant presence of a 100/500 Year Flood Plain contraindicates this product for specification in the application proposed for the OCGC new parking facility.

The manufacturer’s technical expert, indicates that while the product is very pervious to the passage of water, the use of the product in the proposed application would cause storm water to pool at the boundary between the subsurface base materials and migrate laterally to the area of least resistance which would be the Rio Grande, a tributary of the Wallkill River, a Federally Protected Waterway of the United States.

Further, milled “urban rubble” as described by CPL and construction rubble is NOT a suitable base material. In the type of installation proposed here the manufacturer recommends a consistent sub-base of a certain sized stone mixed with sand to make a stable and homogeneous mixture below the product.

The technical staff recommends, that if this product is used in this application significant storm water mitigation would be required, just as the two soil engineering firms have reported in the past. That mitigation would be in the form of significant areas for collection, such as catch basins and underground collection chambers connected by adequate piping to distribute the storm water.

It is clear that the DEC has turned a blind eye to the technical issues here and the reasons for that seem suspicious. It is also clear that Mr. Phil Clark will improperly specify materials that will create a significant liability for the County in order to illegally segment soil disturbance from the project at the expense of Orange County taxpayers. His actions in the light of the information I have found should place his actions in the area of criminal misrepresentation of the facts, and the filing of false documentation in order to criminally evade Federal and State oversight.

As the DEC seems to be determined to collaborate with Mr. Clark in his criminal endeavors, I recommend an immediate referral of this matter to either the NYS Attorney General for prosecution, or in the event that the corruption extends to Albany and the state Unified Court System under the influence of the Office of Court Administration, a Federal criminal complaint be filed with the U.S. Attorney’s office in White Plains.
— Vincent Ferri

A 10-point Coda

The ORANGE COUNTY GOVERNMANT CENTER:  

A 10-point Coda

from the

Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

 1.      A significant part of the mission of the PRHF is to help preserve the legacy of the Paul Rudolph

2.      That legacy consists of not just his ideas and the vivid drawings and photographs associated with them. Images are not enough! That legacy is—much more vividly-- his actual build works. Nothing can replace the direct experience—exciting, moving, thrilling, absorbing—of seeing and moving through a masterful work of architecture. Paul Rudolph was a master—almost a “magician”—of creating architecture that moved people. Moreover, his buildings were deeply & powerfully expressive of his client’s goals, ideals, and character. Rudolph’s architecture was means by which a society could communicate its values—via what it built.

3.      This makes the Orange County Government Center in Goshen a particularly important part of Rudolph’s work. It was conceived and built at a time our country can be proud of:  a moment when government was becoming more open, transparent, and participatory—a time of practical optimism about what communities can do. The County leaders, embracing both idealism and practicality, chose one of the country’s leading architects to give a built expression to their sense that local government can be a positive force for good in the area.

4.      A lot of citizens liked and admired the OCGC—and still do. A lot might like it (or at least not object to it) if it had been properly maintained. [Buildings, just like bodies, need proper care and attention over time—and it has been documented by consultants retained by the county that the OCGC suffered from malign neglect.] And it’s also true that there are people who never were taken by it—it is honest to acknowledge the diversity of opinion in a community. But—equally truthful—is that some things are only seen as valuable in the “long view”, and there are many examples of that. What would Paris be without the Eiffel Tower?—it was almost pulled down. Every art history book includes the modern chapel that the architect Le Corbusier designed for Ronchamp—it too was originally detested by the villagers, yet eventually it became a source of local pride (and, as a tourist attraction, an engine for the area’s economy).   

5.      At the PRHF, we are already admirers of the work of Paul Rudolph—but we also want to share with others that “long view”: even if you’re not a fan of his work today, it is good to be aware of cultural & artistic currents, and the value of history’s judgments.

6.      When it comes to the OCGC, there’s another matter which concerned us. It has been alleged that numerous untruths are being told about every aspect of the building:  about its condition, its fix-ability, its maintainability and flexibility, the real cost of replacement, the amount of disruption involved in demolition, the impact on groundwater and air quality, and the alternatives to removing it. It has been also purported that due process and proper procedures for the filing and approval of this work have not been done, or not been done properly, or have been done with possibly misleading or obscuring information [The SEQRA law is clear that a project must be reviewed in its entirety. It cannot be segmented. The site has flooding problems and it is illegal to ignore them in an initial phase and them correct them later, if they weren't included in the initial SEQRA filing.] Further, it has been suggested that government officials—the guardians of our tax monies and public safety—have not been acting with full care and attention to those duties.

7.      The PRHF—and, in particular, its founder Ernst Wagner—has standing to protest any acts that would damage Rudolph’s life work. Like any entity engaged in the preservation of the country’s built heritage, we have standing to be a litigant to help save this particularly excellent and meaningful building.

8.      All this has been filed and claimed in open court, with the PRHF as one of the litigants—but the courts seem to be reluctant or glacial (or both) to take action to redress these matters.

9.      As of this writing, many of the motions put forth by the legal team have been turned-down by the courts. The story is not over—yet—and there may still be ways or paths to save the building (or a substantial part of it).

10.  We, the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, have been active & energetic in all efforts to save the OCGC. From meeting with local citizens, to doing intense independent research, to support for the legal team, to publicity and education---we have been working year-after-year and day-by-day. We are committed to celebrating, sharing, and saving the work of this great American architect:  Paul Rudolph.

Vincent Ferri's complaint to the EPA

Goshen environmental activist Vincent Ferri filed a complaint with the EPA. He has requested "that the EPA take control and assume authority over the State DEC which has rejected their statutory obligations relative to the project". His complaint is about "negligent failure to regulate on the part of the DEC"

Below is his reply to the EPA..


Dear Mr. Ferreira,

Thank you for responding to my web inquiry.

While the eventual objective is to save a fully functional historic structure, my complaint is about negligent failure to regulate on the part of the DEC.

The regulations are very clear, they have been studied and reviewed by attorneys on our staff, consulting architects and a civil engineer. All the opinions and conclusions are the same; a SWPPP and an application for a SPDES Permit is required.

The regulations clearly state that regulated soil disturbance is defined as the cumulative quantum of soil disturbed from the COMMENCEMENT of a project to the FINAL FULL BUILDOUT of that project.

I have provided documents to Douglas McKenna that attest to collusion between Orange County and the primary project contractor, Clark, Paterson & Lee to illegally segment portions of the project for the purpose of evading the application for a SPDES Permit and to avoid a SWPPP.

ENGINEERING SOIL BORING REPORTS commissioned by the County and CPL independently at two periods in time and by two engineering firms, have identified unstable soils in the areas of projected construction, under the existing main parking lot and under portions of the existing structure. BOTH FIRMS recommended excavation of the unstable soils and replacement with stable fill, including the undercutting of portions of existing foundations and the installation of footing drains around the structure of one of the divisions of the building.

The quantum of regulated soil disturbance for these recommendations alone far exceed the minimum amount of regulated disturbance.

Additionally, the project site conditions require flood mitigation infrastructure as recommended by these two engineering firms. The building has flooded from hydrostatic pressure when sump pumps failed because it sits on a 100/500 year flood plain. Flooding was the reason for the shutdown of the building in 2011.

During flooding conditions, flood waters have direct access to a Federally Protected Emerging Wetland on the property, and the flow of flooding storm waters have direct access to the Wallkill River, a Federally Protected Waterway of the United States. The aforementioned flood waters also carry automotive effluents and other pollutants directly to the Wallkill River.

I will forward the same documentation provided to Mr. McKenna under separate cover.

The project is subject to approval by a NYS agency and that same agency, the Office of Court Administration has a funding component to the project.

Finally, having worked on my community’s Planning Board, I have seen and required adequate documentation from applicants in the form of fully executed and signed site plans. The DEC which is responsible for administering Federal Clean Water Act rules, regulations and mandates has seen no such document that defines the full quantum of accumulated regulated soil disturbance from the COMMENCEMENT of the project to FULL BUILDOUT. This document has been the subject of a NYS FOIL Request, but has never been released or made available to this law firm, any member of the public or any legislator.

Clearly, a regulatory decision of the kind we are speaking of here requires more than anecdotal, verbal assurances and much more than a power point preliminary concept drawing.

The designLAB Architects’ voluntary resignation letter from the project for ethical and professional reasons clearly speaks to the collusive and criminal evasion of regulatory oversight.

You findings are without merit, since they do not pertain to the primary nature of my complaint about regulatory neglect and criminal collusion.

I am fully qualified to make these observations as the firm’s environmental and forensic investigator. I am also a former U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst.

Further investigation is required in this matter, and public release of the documents on which the DEC determined the full cumulative quantum of regulated soil disturbance for this project is a prerequisite for satisfaction of the regulatory requirements.

Other copies will be sent under separate cover to the NYSAG, NYS Comptroller, our local Assemblyman, and members of out Congressional delegation.

Very truly yours,
Vincent Ferri,
— Vincent Ferri

The original complaint and response are reproduced below...

Dear Mr. Ferri;

Your Web Enquiry to EPA Region 2 concerning the compliance of activities at the Orange County Government Center with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) has been forwarded to me for response. After reviewing the information you have presented, at this time there does not appear to be an EPA action involved in this project that would trigger compliance efforts on behalf of EPA with the tenets of Section 106 of the NHPA. However, should this change in the future, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

If you have any additional questions, please let me know.

Sincerely,
Steven J. Ferreira
EPA Region 2 Historic Preservation Officer


Subject

(022161616) WWW Comments For EPA Region 2


COMMENTS_OF_REQUESTOR
I am an environmental and forensic investigator for Sussman & Watkins Law, in Goshen, NY. I have contacted the EPA Water Division before relative to the need for a SPDES permit on a current Orange County project to renovate the Orange County Government Center at 255 Main Street in Goshen, NY.

It was related at that time that the EPA would require a signed and certified site plan be presented to the DEC's, Natalie Brown for the County's project, in order to determine the amount of regulated soil disturbance to take place at the project site until full buildout. No such plan was presented to the DEC, and Ms. Brown is now on leave of absence.

We have obtained a letter from one of the co-contractors that indicates that the County and their primary contractor Clark Paterson and Lee, have unethically and in violation of the no segmentation policy, tried to minimize the amount of soil disturbance documented in order to evade the SPDES Permit requirement and avoid a Section 106 review of the historic structure they are on the verge of destroying.

While they have worked out a deal with FEMA to give up $1,000,000 in storm related awards to divert Federal monies and avoid the 106 review, it is my understanding that any state funding also applies as well as any state agency approval authority on the project.

The NYS Office of Court Administration has an approval authority on the project and a funding component in the form of debt service relief.

It is now confirmed that the DEC has NEVER SEEN A CERTIFIED SITE PLAN and has only viewed preliminary drawings and power point documents used in a concept presentation. All other "documentation" comes from anecdotal oral assurances made by the applicants who have a vested interest in the destruction of the historic building and proceeding in violation of the law.

In the letter from the co-contractor, there is clear documentation that with the project being in a 100/500 year flood zone, flood control mitigation was segmented from the project to attain a lower soil disturbance quantity. And, a parking lot to be build as required by the size of the project has been said by the County to have been taken off of the plans that no one has seen.

Indeed, a FOIL request for those signed and certified site plans has yielded no result and at the 5 business day return date on the FIOL request, this investigator was told the the County would use the entire statutory time limit to provide the documents. I suspect that they currently do not exist.

The project is also adjacent to a tributary of the Wallkill River, a Federally protected waterway of the United States which is fed from a Federally protected emerging wetland on the property. While at this time it is not known if the parking facility is or is not still part of the project, the last iteration of concept drawings showed a parking facility comprising over an acre of soil disturbance in under 10 feet of proximity to the tributary of the Wallkill River with no means to mitigate contaminate effluents from the presence of oil, gasoline, anti-freeze and other automotive fluids, as well as salt and deicing substances during winter months.

I am requesting that the EPA take control of this matter and assume authority over the State DEC which has rejected their statutory obligations relative to this project.

Please contact me at your very earliest convenience to discuss the options that are available to implement the Section 106 Oversight Review relative to the National Historic Preservation Act.

Very truly yours,
Vincent Ferri, Environmental and Forensic Investigator
Sussman and Watkins Law
1 Railroad Avenue, 3rd Floor
Goshen, NY 10924

Suit against government center rebuffed

Nathan Mayberg, of The Chronicle, writes that Goshen attorney Michael Sussman was denied his request for a temporary restraining order to stop the ongoing demolition of the Paul Rudolph designed Orange County Government Center.

He says "Second Appellate Division Judge Joseph Maltese ruled against an appeal of Ulster County State Supreme Court Judge Christopher Cahill's latest decision to reject the temporary restraining order request by Sussman".


An Appeal from Goshen Activist Vincent Ferri

Dear Friends:

Almost a half-year ago at a meeting attended by Judge Alan Scheinkman and one of his assistants, I posed the question of NYS agency funding, a trigger for the Joint Letter of Resolution [JLOR] between the DEC and SHPO and the resulting Section 106 Federal Regulatory Oversight Process relative to the NHPA [Section 106 Review]. It was apparent then that Scheinkman could not be trusted, and even though his assistant was willing to talk about the Office of Court Administration [OCA] Funding Component of the County OCGC Project, he was not allowed to by Judge Scheinkman.

Not only does OCA have a funding component; it also has a project approval authority. BOTH of these conditions independently trigger the JLOR and invoke the Section 106 Review. Judge Scheinkman and Judge Prudenti have raised their ugly heads on a number of occasions to insert their desires and egos into what should have been a fair and open process. Judge Scheinkman, in particular, has developed a very cozy relationship with the County and Clark Paterson & Lee [CPL]. This relationship can only be inferred by observation, however at this time there is no direct evidence of this relationship.

AND THIS IS NOT ABOUT PERSONALITIES! This is about a considerable number of people who are acting lawlessly and colluding in RICO style activities to enrich themselves at the taxpayers’ expense.

A. Judicial misconduct:

Just think, the County, through Steve Neuhaus, has been moaning and whining about budget shortfalls and deficits, yet the County gave up $1,000,000 of their FEMA award for the sole purpose of evading Federal Law. And, on top of that, they chose the absolutely most expensive path to deal with the OCGC after the public cut them off from their more grandiose scheme cooked up with Fusco and LaBella.

It is now clear as crystal, given the release of the designLAB Resignation Letter, that they were determined to evade the law through illegal segmentation, negligent design and engineering, falsification of documentation, misrepresentation of the facts, and manipulation of representatives of State regulatory agencies.

The Section 51 litigation was quashed, by my observations, by Scheinkman and OCA; the appeal of the 51 Case was quashed at the appellate level by Scheinkman and OCA, and they are attempting to quash the Article 78 Petition. There has been no substance in any of the two main decisions by Cahill and no substance in the decision of the Appellate Division on the appeal.

As an officer of the court Michael cannot speculate on why this is, but I am not an officer of the court, and my very firm opinion is that we have been denied OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DUE PROCESS. But:

1. There is significant waste of tax revenue in a time of economic austerity because of budget shortfalls and predicted deficit.

2. The County in this climate of austerity, chose to give away $1,000,000 in Federal Funds to commit essentially an illegal act of regulatory evasion.

3. The County will spend well over $43,000,000 more than the other proposal submitted by Kaufman.

4. The County’s contractors have a cost per square foot on the OCGC project that is almost twice the industry standard for an equivalent project.

5. While designLAB of Boston brought in the UMass Carney Library project on a building of almost identical size, design and material for $43,000,000, CPL will be spending almost $43,000,000 or more when debt service is included.

6. The CPL initial bids from some contractors on the demolition contract came in at twice the CPL estimate, and that part of the project is delayed by the need for a Rule 56 variance on their intended method of asbestos abatement.

7. No one has seen and finalized construction documents, so clearly, no costs are finalized on any aspect of the project.

8. Waste can be established in a Section 51 suit under the statute independently from corruption, but here we have ample vectors of corruption. Many thousands of dollars in Campaign Contributions from interested parties, labor union leaders, and contract winning bidders on the project have been funneled to County officials

9. We also have a legislator convicted of an ethics violation, Leigh Benton, who was found guilty of negotiating and accepting a position from the lead contractor CPL while he controlled the ability to deny any other plan to move to the legislative floor for a vote, except the one that would ensure destruction of the Rudolph building as a significant historic, social and architectural treasure.

HOW DID JUDGE CAHILL FIND THAT THERE WAS NO WASTE? HOW DID CAHILL FIND NO CONCOMITANT CORRUPTION?

My conclusion is that due process was denied and will continue to be denied in our state courts and a Federal Due Process lawsuit is needed.



B. Deliberate and neglegent regulatory conduct:

While I hadn’t paid much attention to the SOIL STUDIES, since we had other fish to fry, I finally looked more carefully at them last week and found:

1.The identification of unstable soils in the areas of construction, under the parking lots and under sections of the building that TWO DIFFERENT, INDEPENDENT SOIL ENGINEERING FIRMS IN TWO DIFFERENT INDEPENDENTLY UNDERTAKEN STUDIES RECOMMENDED be excavated and replaced with stable fill.

2. Both engineering firms also recommended flood control infrastructure to mitigate the project site’s placement in a 100/500 year flood plain. This would be implemented by the use of significantly voluminous COLLECTION CHAMBERS AND COLLECTION BASINS under the main parking lot, under the courtyard, under the front lawn along Main Street along with a number of very long runs of 2” pipe and footing drains in a quantum to clearly have soil disturbance well above even the 2.47 acres we identified.

3. This infrastructure appears on documents prepared by CPL.

4. The DEC is completely unaware of these elements of the project.

5. No one has seen a fully executed and certified copy of the site plan. Even after submitting a FOIL request, the documents were not available on the return date, and the County said via the County attorney that they would run out the statutory limit on releasing the site plan.

6. Only anecdotal and oral assurances along with drawings that have been manipulated or falsely presented as the actual project drawing were shown to the DEC representative that visited the site.

Is the DEC executing its mandate as the State’s leading environmental protection agency to enforce Federal Clean Water Act Laws? I believe the answer is NO!

It was the Federal EPA that suggested a citizen’s suit in Federal Court on the DEC’s failure to regulate under the Clean Water Act, and that route preempts OCA and its control of OCGC litigation.

The DEC has failed in its regulatory obligations which in my opinion should be challenged in Federal Court under the Clean Water Act.

Michael has told you why Sussman & Watkins cannot pursue this course of action, and I have to ask:

EXCEPT FOR THE PRHF, WHERE IS THE ARCHITECTURAL AND ARTS COMMUNITY?

WHERE IS KAUFMAN?

WHERE ARE THOSE WHO ABHOR CENSORSHIP?

WHERE ARE THOSE WHO ARE DISGUSTED BY GOVERNMENTAL CORRUPTION?

AND, WHERE ARE OTHER ATTORNEYS WITH A CONSCIENCE AND WILLINGNESS TO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE?


C. Other strategies:

In the last week I have taken these steps:

1. I have filed a criminal complaint for environmental fraud with the EPA.

2. I have called in a complaint to the EPA’s Region 2 Water Division relative to the SPDES Permit requirements, and they now have the soil studies, the maps we generated to show minimum soil disturbance of over 2.47 acres, the map that tracks the progress of the Rio Grande as a tributary of the Federally Protected Wallkill River to the River which is part of the waters of the United States, the drawings generated by an engineering firm hired by CPL showing the recommended flood mitigation infrastructure and MOST IMPORTANTLY the designLAB of Boston Resignation Letter. They are currently looking into the need for a SPDES Permit.

3. I have asked the NYSDOL Asbestos Board’s Engineering Services Unit to deny the Rule 56 variance needed by the County for additional asbestos abatement, and if it has already been issued that it be rescinded pending a PUBLIC hearing based on prior project violations including open air asbestos abatement that contaminated the site and endangered the Village. If they have not issued the variance yet, but are considering it, I asked that they conduct a local PUBLIC HEARING on the variance.


The Sloop Clearwater has a very heavy [tons] mainsail and it cannot be lifted by one, two or even three people. The sail is lifted by a crew working in unison to achieve a common goal.

WE NEED MORE HANDS HAULING ON THE OCGC ROPE. PEOPLE WHO WILL ACTUALLY FOLLOW UP ON ANY ACTION TO STOP THE COUNTY AND ITS CONTRACTORS.

PLEASE THINK CREATIVELY AND ACT AGGRESSIVELY.

File your own complaints to the DOL, the DEC, the EPA, the DOJ, FEMA and members of our congressional delegation. Make it hurt for the County to continue on its illegal and reckless course.

Best regards in solidarity,
Vincent
— Vincent Ferri

The final battle?

Nathan Mayberg of The Chronicle, who was at the hearing on Tuesday July 21, 2015 reports "After months and years of arguments over the demolition of the government center, an Ulster County judge has appeared to have thwarted another attempt to stop the demolition."

He further quotes Goshen attorney Michael Sussman: "There is no way to put the building back together" after it is demolished, Sussman said. "We're dealing with something that can not be replaced."

Demolition to Continue on OC Government Building

Epoch Times reports on July 22, 2015 that "Despite new evidence that purports to show Orange County has acted improperly in its renovation of the Orange County Government Center in Goshen, the work on the controversial building will continue."

The article goes on to say that Goshen attorney (Michael) "Sussman thought he had a “blockbuster” that would make the judge, if not change his mind, at least seriously reconsider."

Michael Sussman has said "he would submit an emergency appeal to the Second Judicial Division Appellate Court in Brooklyn on Friday."

Judge refuses to halt Government Center overhaul

Chris McKenna reported in the Times Herald-Record on July 22, 2015 that "Supreme Court Justice Christopher Cahill issued a short, hand-written decision in which he denied a request by Goshen attorney Michael Sussman for a temporary restraining order, which would have immediately halted work. Cahill instructed the lawyers to submit papers by Aug. 6 to address Sussman's request for a preliminary injunction, also intended to suspend the demolition activities."

The county has indicated that it plans to start demolition of Paul Rudolph's iconic facade around August 1.

OCGC | URGENT | RE: Orange County Government Center Renovation Project Asbestos Abatement

Goshen environmental activist, Vincent Ferri has sent the below notice to the NYSDOL today:

Dear Sir/Madame,

I am an environmental and forensic investigator for the Goshen law firm of Sussman and Watkins, and we have some concerns about the this project for which we do not have a DOL case or reference number.

In regard to the above matter, an inspector from your office visited the site of this renovation project recently and found several violations that he asked to be corrected. In the process of inspecting the site at 255 Main Street in Goshen bordered on the South by Erie Street, he advised the contractors that a Rule 56 variance was needed to proceed with rooftop asbestos abatement and other aspects of the abatement, and we must demand a public hearing on the matter of the variance to be held in the Goshen community.

We are concerned that any variance issued to the following parties, Orange County, Clark Paterson & Lee, Holt Construction, Helmer-Cronin, LVI Construction Services and North Star Construction, would endanger the health and welfare of the residents of the Village and the Town of Goshen, because in recent weeks these entities have conducted open-air asbestos abatement without [to the best of my knowledge] notification to nearby residents or the School located in very close proximity to the work site.

And, on the day that prompted my original complaint to your agency, I witnessed open-air abatement work on the roof of the site using jack-hammers with a prevailing wind blowing in a Southerly direction towards the school and a residential area throughout the day. Clearly, these entities have shown no concern for your Rule 56 regulations or the public health. These actions took place in violation of the law with their full knowledge and intent to do so. This is apparent because of our inspection of pre-project bid specifications and documents sent by Holt Construction, the managing contractor on this project, to Helmer-Cronin, the demolition contractor on the project, who subcontracted to LVI and North Star for the asbestos work at the time the documents were furnished to our firm requiring an asbestos abatement plan which no one here or locally has seen. If any change has taken place in those documents since, we have not been privy to those changes, but they clearly defined what would take place as outlined in Rule 56 on a check list sheet defining the work timeline and the requirements at each point in the timeline. There were no items in the check list marked as completed at that time, and no plan defined specific to the idiosyncratic nature of the project.

We have also observed the absence of air monitoring equipment, no apparent identification of hazardous waste, insufficient containment and handling of asbestos containing materials, unprotected workers or workers who ware protective gear only when being observed, and no attempt to create a negative pressure containment of asbestos particle released from the work site.

It is our fear that without a public hearing on the matter of their request for a variance, they will continue to endanger those who live and work in close proximity to the work site with impunity.

Very truly yours,
Vincent Ferri
— Vincent Ferri

A Potluck Gathering of Kindred Spirits – to mingle, communicate and enjoy!

RE: Preserving the Orange County Government Center, Valley View Nursing Home and opposing the power plant in Wawayanda.

Date: August 2, 2015 - Sunday

Time: 2:00 p.m. to ~6:00 p.m.

Place: Maddy’s (Shaw) Place
696 Ridgebury Rd.
Slate Hill, NY 10973

Purpose: a gathering of folks who continue to support preventing the sale of the Valley View Center (VVC), selling the OCGC building instead of demolishing it, challenging the power plant in the town of Wawayanda and other regional issues. Bring a friend – all are welcome.

Bring a potluck dish and/or beverage, a chair etc.

We’ll supply the chicken, hamburger and hotdogs.

We’re working on getting a band to play for an hour.
Any musicians who wish to play should bring their own instruments.
A keyboard will be available as will a cd/record player.

RSVP to Greg at gwin12344@gmail.com
or Frank at forthebirds39@verizon.net
or call 845.355.6472

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday August 2.
Enjoy!

Sussman again tries to halt Orange County Government Center overhaul

On Tuesday, July 21, 2015, the initial hearing on the Article 78 suit filed by Goshen attorney Michael Sussman to save the iconic Paul Rudolph designed Orange County Government Center was heard in County Court in Goshen, NY. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Cahill presided. The hearing lasted over an hour and a half and ended with the attorneys meeting in chambers before disbanding. Ernst Wagner and the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation were petitioners and were in attendance at the hearing.

Chris McKenna reports on the hearing in the Times Herald-Record.

An EXPLOSIVE incriminating letter

On July 20, 2015, Goshen attorney Michael Sussman wrote his supporters:

“so, today at 1 pm an envelope arrives and in it is THE LETTER. the letter was written by the president of one of the three architectural firms allegedly collaborating on the orange county government center project. it explains why in august 2014 his firm resigned from the gig. it explains that the principal firm was helping the county "skirt" environmental laws which applied to the program, including those intended to protect groundwater and public health and safety. what this writer saw happening has now happened and 11 months later, he looks like a prophet. no one released this letter to the people of our county for 11 months. I sent it to the media today because his informed opinion reveals, in great detail, how the project was hi-jacked, distorted and how the county leader knowingly circumvented the law...I will be addressing this and other subjects in court tomorrow at 2 pm at the courthouse, 285 wall street in Goshen. come if you can. we need to get at what has really happened and explode the obfuscation and untruths. to all” – michael [sussman]"

Click here to download the letter from designLAB which warned the county that the course of action they were taking would eventually be challenged because they were intentionally skirting the law.

Sold Out ! A post by Vincent Ferri

MY DEAR FRIENDS,

Sold Out

[Renegade Court bows to pressure from OCA, Scheinkman and Prudenti to deny Constitutional Right to Due Process, and Orange County Supreme Court judges play hide and seek with Article 78 Petition. — MY WORDING, VINCENT FERRI]

Michael Sussman, Esq. will be having an important PRESS CONFERENCE Friday the 17th of July at a time and place to be announced [Probably at his office, but it could be at the OCGC].

Please distribute this announcement broadly; I will post the time and place as soon as I can meet with Michael.

Death of Democracy

GRAPHICS AND EDITORIAL COMMENTARY ARE THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY OF VINCENT A. FERRI, WALLKILL WIDE AWAKE, DESIGNWORKS AND THE DEMOCRAT~OBSERVER. NO OTHER PERSON, GROUP OR ENTITY IS ASSOCIATED WITH THESE COMMENTS. I’M MAD AS HELL …

In the mean time, I believe that there should be an ongoing and continual presence at the building and infront of the court house denouncing the destruction and the denial of Constitutional access to legally adjudicate the issues of the current Article 78 Petition.

Orange County judges, Scheinkman, Prudent and OCA are making mafioso look like alter boy.

It is time for some form of direct action, and daily protests of the court and the project seem to be a logical first step. Some of this will be determined at a future meeting, but feel free to randomly appear and protect as you see fit.

The Police Officers of the Unified Court System HAVE NO, REPEAT, NO jurisdiction outside of the building, and only local police and the County Sheriff’s Department have jurisdiction in the parking lot and areas surrounding the Rudolph building.

Jefferson quote


A status report from Goshen attorney Michael Sussman

I have been getting many contacts from people concerned about the status of the Government Center. I have a responsibility to advise all of you of the facts. You can form your own judgments. So, here goes:

On July 2, 2015, I filed a second challenge to the Neuhaus proposal to demolish Division 2 and remove the entire facade from the Government Center. The challenge is based on SEQRA, a law which requires those engaged in major development/ renovation to study the environmental effects of their proposed action, identify significant effects and explain how these will be mitigated. In addition, proponents of a plan must show how it compares, from an environmental perspective, with alternatives.

In this instance, on behalf of a local resident, Mr. Eugene Degan, and the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation and its Chair, Ernst Wagner, I filed an Order to Show Cause, a Verified petition and a Brief which argued that a court should enjoin or stop the demolition activities which the County claimed were imminent because the County had failed to do a proper environmental review. Amongst other issues we raised were the following: [a] the county claimed that it would demolish 4400 TONS of concrete, but, in reality, demolition would exceed 9000 TONS of concrete and other building materials; apart from not recognizing the magnitude of its own project, the County failed to study the environmental effects, particularly the noise and air pollution so occasioned. Instead, the county's environmental review states that there will be no heavy equipment used during the demolition, no noise or air pollution...In addition, when a developer disturbs more than one acre of soil, it needs to apply for an receive a SPDES permit from the DEC. Here, the county never even sought such a permit and spuriously denies that adding 340 parking spots to the old jail site, which is now vacant grassland, will cause a disturbance to soil, requiring such a permit. Our experts have determined that more than 2.5 acres will be disturbed. There are other problems, but these are the most significant.

So, we wanted to explain to a judge why the county should not be permitted to proceed with its project until it completed proper envrironmental reviews. We also intended to argue that there is a viable alternative to this proposal which would have none of the same environmental impacts.

So what happened:

July 2- we filed out papers and I wrote the chief administrative judge indicating that we had an urgent application - to stop imminent demolition - and that we needed to have a judge assigned promptly.

July 2 - 4 pm - I receive a call from a clerk from the Orange County Supreme Court informing me that the "duty judge" had declined to sign our request for a stay, crossed it out, but then recused or disqualified herself from the case. The clerk told me the case would be reassigned to another judge in Kingston and that she would make sure he received the papers I had filed by the following Monday, July 6.

July 6-9 - We hear nothing from anyone; the Judge in Kingston does not contact me to schedule argument on my request for a stay of demolition pending resolution of my request for a more permanent injunction against demolition.

July 9 - I write the Judge in Kingston and ask him to set dates so the parties can state their positions on my request for a stay.

July 10 - I receive a call from the chief administrative judge's office acknowledging that I had sought the prompt assignment of a judge but advising that no judge had yet been assigned, though the kingston judge would be and then could re-consider my request for a stay of demolition.

July 13-14 I hear nothing from the judge.

July 15 - i again write the Judge asking him to set dates so we can argue for a stay. At about 330 this afternoon, the Judge's staff called and the Judge advised both lawyers that while he anticipated that he would be assigned to the case, the order so assigning him has not yet reached him.

So, we are now two weeks after I filed for an injunction. I have not been able to make my case to a Judge. We have no legal closure and have had no schedule set for consideration of my motion for a stay.

These are the facts. If anyone has any questions, shoot.

Michael Sussman