Schenectady County legislators introduced a law authorizing the county to clean up the property owned by Michael Marotta if it isn't cleared by May 25.
A handful of residents and County Legislators Ed Kosiur, Judy Dagostino and Kent Gray, gathered at the site on Route 5S in Pattersonville Thursday, April 26, to introduce the legislation.
Marotta's property, which is cluttered with construction vehicles and other debris, is located on a sensitive area of the Great Flats Aquifer, which is Schenectady County's source of drinking water.
This is a quality-of-life issue for the residents and a health issue for the entire county, Kosiur said.
On April 16, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise signed a default judgment mandating the immediate cleanup of the property.
The legislation sets aside $50,000 for the project. According to public health law, if the county does have to clean up the property, the cost of doing so would be charged to the property owner, and, if necessary, the property could be sold to recoup the cost of the project.
County Attorney Christopher Gardner said, "We don't care how it's cleaned up as long as it's cleaned up. If someone goes to jail, so be it."
Dagostino thanked the residents who fought for the cleanup of the property and brought the issue to the attention of the legislature.
Shawn Shultz, a member of the advocacy group Friends of the Aquifer, has been actively pushing for the cleanup.
"This is great. It's wonderful that the county Legislature is starting to aggressively pursue environmental violators," Shultz said. "Our biggest concern is what might be buried here."
Gardner said a full environmental review of the property will be completed once the site is cleaned up.
According to Shultz, Marotta was using the site as a junk yard in the 1970s. At that time the county seized the land from him and cleaned it up. The property was then sold to a lawyer, who sold it to Marotta again.