In November, the state Department of Environmental Conservation received a complaint of a petroleum sheen on the wetlands and stream adjacent to Stone Quarry Road. They traced the contamination to the road bank and collected samples, documenting the presence of contaminated material on Stone Quarry Road. After interviewing town employees, the DEC determined other locations where the debris was used as fill.
"We never denied him (Stowell) anything he asked for," Moran said. "Our highway department's cost per mile is very high compared with the rest of Madison County. We were not penny pinching."
The DEC issued two consent orders, one to the town and one to Gary Stowell. The orders document the violation of environmental laws and called for fines and remedial action. The town immediately began to remove material from Stone Quarry Hill Rd and tested other sites. Testing and clean-up continued through spring 2007, along with investigations related to personnel issues, union organizing attempts, and allegations of mishandling of cash. On May 2, Gary Stowell stepped down as highway Superintendent and the town board appointed Tim Hunt to take his place.
"We are completely compliant with the DEC, but that will be reflected in the upcoming budget and tax rates," Moran said. "The losers here are the taxpayers and the environment. The irony is that we have all this community talk about the aquifer and the open protected green spaces and the environment, and something like this happens."
In further developments, Hunt was told by two employees there was more contamination. On the grounds of the town garage, there is an underground tank connected to the indoor drainage system. That tank was supposed to hold the contaminated water after the vehicles were hosed down. The tank would then need to be pumped out by a separate company at a cost to the town, probably six to eight times per year. The records show that the tank was only pumped out once, and that was recently. It is possible that the tank was tampered with before it was placed in the ground, like a hole was punched out. Then it was tampered with again some months ago, to patch the hole. There was contaminated soil found around the tank.