HUGUENOT - Neighbors of Dragon Springs Buddhist, Inc., recently expressed dismay about the timing, methods, and supervision of road work on Galley Hill Road that Deerpark officials required of Dragon Springs almost two years ago.

On April 20, 2017, the Deerpark Zoning Board voted to grant a variance for an illegally wide driveway at the Galley Hill Road entrance to the Dragon Springs campus on the condition that Dragon Springs raise the road one to two feet at the bottom of the driveway to rectify the illegal slope. Dragon Springs was required to pay for the work contracted by the town “according to appropriate bidding processes.”

Two construction seasons passed, and no work was done, but in late December Grace Woodard said that she and other neighbors noticed that road work had begun without silt fencing to protect nearby streams from runoff. Woodard also pointed out that Merv Ayers, from Fusco Engineering, in Middletown, was supervising Consorti Brothers, in apparent disregard for earlier commitments by town officials to have outside supervision. Al Fusco, Jr., who owns Fusco Engineering, is also the town engineer.

Asked about the conflict on Dec. 27, Town Attorney Glen Plotsky said, “I’ll be meeting today [with town officials] to work things through.” As for the silt fencing, he said, “Fencing is now in place because of concern about a particular winter event.”

Heavy rains were predicted. However, Frank Ketcham, of Mount Hope, a civil engineer whose farm overlooks Dragon Springs, says silt fencing should have been in place before construction.

“Erosion control, such as silt fencing and check dams, should be the first items taken care of before any disturbance to the dirt,” he said. “It should be Fusco telling workers to put in erosion controls, but he allows them to overlook it until we call them on it.”

Ketcham also expressed concern about doing the work in winter.

“Even if they get asphalt on top, if it rains, dirt on the sides erodes into ditches and water. Ideally, you seed and get grass growing to hold things in place. But now, in winter, right next to the Basher Kill stream, fine silt particles will get into the water. They’re heavy and sink to the bottom and cover fish eggs. It kills invertebrates at the bottom of the river. The silt thickens and goes through fish gills, suffocating them when they go to the bottom for food. It’s like sucking in dust.”

Ketcham voiced resentment toward Dragon Springs for repeated incidents of environmental neglect and damage. They have a history of violations of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation regulations. He also condemned town officials as complicit in disregard for the environment. On Saturday, he visited the site and said he found the silt fence installed incorrectly and ineffectively.

“Much of it didn’t even touch the ground,” Ketcham said. “To be installed correctly a trench has to be dug, and six inches of silt fence fabric buried in the trench, creating a dam to keep silt, mud, and debris from washing down into areas beyond the construction. With the fence installed this way, it’s totally useless. It would be in violation of Dragon Springs’ SPDES Permit and should raise a flag if the DEC came to look at it.”

Ketcham has worked for the state for 25 years as a civil engineer and has DEC certification in erosion control, he says.

Al Fusco, Jr., defended the work on Galley Hill Road. “We did specifications, plans and day to day inspection,” he said. “It was windy last night and a branch came down. The silt fence needs to be straightened out, but it was always part of the job. We stopped the contractors after they started when we saw the fence wasn’t up.”

Ketcham disagreed. “If the bottom was buried correctly it would never be displaced by wind. I doubt a hurricane would pull the fabric out of the ground.”

Work is complete except for a guide rail, and Fairway Testing Co., in Stony Point, provided “third party” inspection, Fusco said.

Kenny De’Entremont, a dispatcher at Fairway, said their representative tested soil density for the site one day and asphalt the next day. But asked about the possibility of soil running off from under the asphalt, he said, “It depends what weather comes.”

Plotsky did not respond to calls about the outcome of his meeting with Deerpark officials about road work supervision.