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CB 7 wants AG to probe lux lot’s soil

Rendering courtesy Barone Management
By Joe Anuta

Community Board 7 is asking the state attorney general to investigate how unauthorized soil was dumped on a waterfront lot in Whitestone where a luxury housing development is planned, TimesLedger Newspapers has learned.

The board sent a Feb. 20 letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requesting a probe into whether or not toxic material was illegally transported to the 13-acre vacant site, known as Waterpointe, where the construction of 52 homes is planned.

That soil was transported under the auspices of Massachusetts-based consulting company EBI Consulting and Whitestone-based contractor Barone Management. The two companies were cleaning the site of historic contamination as part of the state Brownfield Cleanup Program, in which private companies get financial incentives to clean sites following state Department of Environmental Conservation regulations.

Now the DEC is currently hammering out an agreement with the new owners of the site, Edgestone Group, to remove the suspect material that was placed onto the site.

Some of the material that needs to be taken away is believed by contractors to come from a former federal Superfund, or hazardous waste site, in Brooklyn. It was discovered during a DEC investigation that began last year.

Edgestone had no affiliation with the previous owners and purchased the property after the material had been dumped, but before DEC concluded its investigation. But it is retaining Barone as a consultant, though no one at the company has an equity interest in the property.

The company has pledged to complete the cleanup and begin construction on the site, which includes building a public waterfront park as soon as possible.

Before it can get a crucial permit renewal to build, which the community board will weigh in on, it must reach an accord with the state about how exactly to get the soil off of the property in a safe manner.

The board has had several committee meetings with all concerned parties. CB 7 members Chuck Apelian and James Cervino had recused themselves from making any decisions about the process. Apelian said he had prior business relationships involving the site, and Cervino’s company was hired to import untouched soil to replace the contaminated earth. None of Cervino’s soil was questioned by the DEC.

Paul Vallone, a board member and City Council candidate, also has loose ties to the property. He is a partner in his family law firm, Vallone & Vallone, and is sometimes listed in city lobbyist databases as working for Constantinople & Vallone Consulting LLC, which was hired by the previous owners of Waterpointe in 2006 to lobby the city about the zoning of the property.

Vallone said his name is sometimes listed as a lobbyist as a technicality, since he works at the family law firm, and that he has never worked at his father’s consulting firm.

“My name has nothing to do with this project,” he said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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