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Becker: Prepare for new cleanup

When Dep. Supervisor Bill Cole (R,C,I -- Sullivan) asked for an update of the status of the former tire dump on Pine Ridge Road, he and everyone in attendance at the July 2 Sullivan Town Council meeting got an earful.

"Mr. [Carl "Dennis"] Tornatore is taking tires in and filling it back up," said Supervisor John M. Becker (R,C,I -- Sullivan). "He's got a free pass to fill it up again from the [state Department of Environmental Conservation]. If we take possession, then we're stuck with it."

According to records obtained by Eagle Newspapers last fall under the Freedom of Information Law, the site of the former Title Town Tires is valued at less than $40,000, but the 20-plus years of tax arrearages exceed that amount. Compounding that sum is the almost $300,000 expended by the state to erect a fence in late 2006 and to clean the property up between November and December of last year.

The property contained "upwards of a quarter-million tires," Tornatore said during a 2004 interview with Eagle News staff.

Becker said the original arrangement was that the county would take the deed to the property and sell it at auction for the past due taxes, and the DEC and the town would split the proceeds. According to Becker, the property would likely only draw $20,000 to $30,000 at auction. That arrangement, he said has changed.

"Now they want all of it," Becker said. "He's hauling tires in there. I told the DEC we would probably only get $20,000 to $30,000 out of it, but they want us to do all the work to take the property, and they want to take all the money."

In the meantime, Becker said, Tornatore is "operating wide open," bringing the tires into the storage building on the property.

"At the end of a few years, we're going to have another $300,000 bill," Becker said. "After paying all that money to put that fence up, to clean up the tires, the DEC wants to get greedy over $10,000. But, hey, that's [DEC attorney] Mike Caruso in Albany."

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