According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, Tappan Zee Constructors, the company building the $3.9 billion new bridge across the Hudson, has been fined for permit violations. According to state reports the constructors began working on building large portions of the bridge at a site north of the project, where they are leasing land and will later ferry the pieces South to the actual construction site. Officials for the group Riverkeeper stated in August they observed the company improperly dredging areas of the Hudson near the Albany site and alerted the DEC of possible violations. Director or Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Phillip Musegaas stated that dredging should be continuous movements between the river and barge where materials are dumped, so water and sediment doesn’t drain from the river, but dredging cranes allegedly paused in the process, harming the environment. The company was fined $10,000 for violations and must pay $55,000 to a project for the environment. TZC officials stated that work will continue on schedule, despite the fines.
The County Legislature appears to have agreed not to override County Executive Ed Day’s veto of the proposal to pay Brega Transport Corp. $300,000 to have the bus fleet washed daily. Members of the Legislature were set to vote Tuesday on whether or not to override Day’s decision, but before the meeting the issue was pulled from the agenda by Legislature Chairman Alden Wolfe. Day stated on his Facebook page, “Vetoes do not get pulled as a rule unless the support to override is not there.” and went on to say that he thanks the unknown members who reviews the information provided with his veto. The $70 million contract with Brega requires that the buses be washed a minimum of once a week, and the County Executive stated in his argument that this means the operator would cover the costs of extra washing and maintenance, not tax payers. According to Day’s statements on the social media site, the proposal has been defeated, unless the Legislature holds a special meeting within the next week, which is unlikely.
On Tuesday State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Garvey made a ruling on the chaotic Ramapo ward vote that was held last week. Garvey ordered that a new vote is to be held stating that Ramapo Town Clerk Christian Sampson created confusion for residents by not clearly notifying polling centers who was eligible to vote as well as creating problems with absentee ballots. In Garvey’s 14-page ruling she stated the state law requires that absentee ballots be counted as long as they are recevied by 5:00 PM on the election day, though the town released information that absentee votes will count if they were postmarked by September 28 and received up to a week after the election. The judge impounded votes after last Tuesday’s election, when activists Michael Parietti and Robert Romanowski filed a petition which brought up the possible improper actions in the polling centers. According to Parietti the town misled voters and went around Garvey’s original orders by not clearly announcing voting regulations. Judge Garvey did not order a new date for the election but stated that the votes will be preserved and the Town Board held a meeting at 8:30 this morning, voting unanimously to appeal the decision to invalidate the results.
According to Orangetown Police a foreign exchange student attending school at St. Thomas Aquinas College was arrested at 11:00 on Monday morning after police received reports from college security on Sunday that the 20-year old Spanish student was threatening a massacre on campus. Detective Lt. James Brown stated that Inigo Aldecoa-Tapia allegedly made the threats via a social media site and the Rockland Sheriff’s Department Comupter Crimes Task Force and Bomb Squad were brought in to assist in the investigation. Brown stated that Aldecoa-Tapia did not have any weapons in his possession, and the student was charged with a felony count of making a terroristic threat, and misdemeanor count of second-degree aggravated harassment and taken to Rockland County Jail on $10,000 bail. The college opened again at 8:00 AM on Monday, after a three-hour search of the campus by authorities.
According to police three men broke into a home on Dunnigan Drive in Pomona this weekend. Police stated that around 3:30 Saturday morning the men dressed in dark hoodies, one armed with a gun, broke into the residence and it was reported that the father in the household of three was attacked and hit over the head with the weapon. He was transported to the hospital and his condition has not been released. Police have not stated what was taken from the home, and are continuing from the home, and are continuing to search for the men, who are considered armed and dangerous.
According to a recent report issued by the Public Transportation Safety Board, a division within the New York State Department of Transportation, the driver of a Breaga Transport Bus that caught fire and was evacuated on February 8, and the dispatcher that he contacted, are at fault for the incident. The report states that the driver was unable to identify the situation and take actions to prevent the fire. According to reports filed by Brega at the time of the incident the driver smelled burning and got off the bus to check the outside, then called his dispatcher, and when the driver reached Pearl River he heard a dripping noise followed by an explosion in the right rear wheel well and the fire. The state’s report also points to the dispatcher, stating that they did not have the skills to make a decision to evacuate the bus immediately and take it out of service, when the driver first reported the smell. County Executive Ed Day’s spokesman Scott Salotto stated, “Despite apparent negligence by Brega personnel, we expect additional training and safety practices put in place by the operator will prevent similar incidents in the future.” After the incident a proposal to spend nearly $300,000 a year on daily washing for the bus was presented by Legislator Patrick Moroney, creating controversy within the County Government and residents, some who believe it is a waste of funds, others who believe it is a necessary safety expense. The Legislature is meeting Tuesday, where they will have the opportunity to override Day’s veto of the proposal and stated that they will make the decision public by Friday.
Police responded to an accident in Stony Point on Friday night after receiving calls that a car had crashed into a utility pole, leading to a power outage in several areas of town. Stony Point resident 17-year old Sean Delgado was arrested and charged with driving while impaired, a misdemeanor and assault in the second and third degrees, both felonies after his car went off the road. In the accident a 17-year old passenger was thrown from the car and suffered critical injuries, responders took him to Nyack Hospital before he was transferred to Westchester Medical. Two other passengers were taken to Nyack Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.
County officials are announcing plans for the water problems faced by Rockland. The Chairman of the Legislature Alden Wolfe and County Executive Ed Day, will be speaking at a meeting open to the public tonight from 5:30 to 7:30 at Rosary Hall in Dominican College 500 Western Highway in Blauvelt. The meeting will open discussion with the new nineteen member task force chaired by Democratic Legislator Harriet Cornell. Earlier in the year the Public Service Commission declared that the need for water wouldn’t be urgent until the year 2020, and United Water New York should not pursue building plans for their proposed water treatment plant on the Hudson River until the need was present. This allowed opponents, such as the Rockland Water Coalition, time to create conservation platforms that will involve protecting wetlands and groundwater, and other solutions. The task force includes county officials, local business owners, school officials, and United Water officials who will be presenting their thoughts on solutions at tonight’s meeting, as well as hiring a new coordinator after the 30 minute public participation session.
New York State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli released his evaluation on New York communities’ fiscal statuses for 2013. According to his reports Rockland was ranked as the most fiscally stressed municipality in the state for the second year in a row. Dinapoli stated that the review is meant as a warning and to promote discussions between the residents and government officials to find solutions to the issues. County Executive Ed Day stated that the reports are not surprising, people elected him to fix the economic problems Rockland faces and with Moody’s recent promotion to a positive outlook the county can continue making making steps toward an “A” rating. The Comptroller’s report was compiled based on 23 financial and environmental factors and involved !,043 New York communities, with a total of 35 described as stressed. The County Executive is set to release his budget proposal for 2015 next month.
According to East Ramapo school board president Yehuda Weissmandl, the district will be working with a new government relations team to help them obtain state aid. Weissmandl stated that they hired lobbyist Darren Dopp of the firm Patricia Lynch Associates as a media consultant to handle press-related issues in June, around the same time Hank Greenburg was appointed as the district’s fiscal monitor by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The district signed a seven month long contract with the firm, playing $7,000 a month. Dopp stated that his goal is to help district officials and residents work together toward getting money for students and programs.