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..
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