Despite three state-issued Notice of Violation letters and a Stop Work Order, the developer of a residential project on the Clarkstown/Ramapo border has not implemented sufficient measures to stop soil and sediment from flowing off the property and into Lake Lucille. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued the Stop Work Order on August 30 and sent the Notice of Violation letters on July 12, August 30 and October 4.
On Tuesday, DEC spokesperson Wendy Rosenbach said, “The Stop Work Order is still in effect.”
She said Joy Builders of Monsey has not yet taken adequate steps to stop the flow of silt and sediment off the property where the Sky Ridge subdivision is being built. The agency plans to address the problem directly with builder Joseph Herskowitz.
“We going to have them come in for a compliance conference,” said Rosenbach.
She expects the conference will be held within a week or two. The DEC is waiting for Joy Builders’ response to the latest Notice of Violation.
The residential development on Buena Vista Road and Overlook Drive has been identified as the likely source of silt flowing into and discoloring Lake Lucille in New City.
“Our lake isn’t what it was back in July,” said Bill Terribile, president of the Lake Lucille Property Owners Association, who said the lake began changing color in August.
The most recent Notice of Violation stated the property has improperly maintained sediment basins and catch basins, an un-stabilized interior road and violated state Water Quality Standards. Those violations can result in penalties of $37,5000 daily for each infraction. The Town of Ramapo notified the developer in August that town and state soil erosion control measures were not being followed and ordered an appearance in Ramapo Town Court on Oct. 16. Messages requesting to speak with Herskowitz were not returned.
Terribile said nearby bodies of water are being affected. He described Crum Creek, which feeds into Lake Lucille, as looking like “chocolate.”
“I can’t believe people would do this to people’s drinking water,” said Terribile. “This is a major environmental cleanup that I don’t even know how you would do it.”
Local and state officials are also concerned and sent letters to the DEC. Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski (D-New City) toured the area including one private property with a pond that had filled with silt. He contacted William Janeway, regional director of the DEC, directly and asked for the agency to intervene.
“We absolutely need the DEC’s help and assistance both to ascertain what the cause as well as analyze the extent of the damage,” said Zebrowski. “They also need to hold whoever is responsible fully accountable.”
“With each rainstorm more damage is possibly being done,” said Zebrowski.
Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack and Rockland County Legislator Ed Day (R-New City/Pomona) sent letters emphasizing the need to protect the area’s water supply because Lake Lucille flows into Lake DeForest, which is a source of drinking water for Rockland and Bergen counties.
“This event does not only affect the small community of Lake Lucille,” said Day. “It has impact on the water supply in both Rockland and Bergen counties. No matter the cause of the erosion, I am calling upon the DEC to be an aggressive advocate for our community in general and the Lake Lucille community, specifically.”