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.

Steven J. Ferreira
EPA Region 2 Historic Preservation Officer


(022161616) WWW Comments For EPA Region 2

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