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Town of Bayside under ‘federal investigation’
by Kenda Nelson
Aug 24, 2012 | 1751 views | 4 4 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The town of Bayside received a reprimand from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after the mayor authorized the dumping of concrete from the Refugio Middle School, which was recently demolished. The area was part of a project by the Corps of Engineers to erect a seawall and plant sea grass to curb erosion. The contractor has since removed the concrete.
The town of Bayside received a reprimand from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after the mayor authorized the dumping of concrete from the Refugio Middle School, which was recently demolished. The area was part of a project by the Corps of Engineers to erect a seawall and plant sea grass to curb erosion. The contractor has since removed the concrete.
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BAYSIDE — Mayor Ken Dahl was under fire at last Tuesday night’s council meeting for authorizing a contractor to dump concrete rubble over the bluff at the city park.

The illegal dumping drew the attention of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Council member Karen Clark told the council she went to the bayfront and stopped the dumping after receiving a call from residents. Then, she contacted the General Land Office, which contacted the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Clark told the council.

“I did not want us to get into trouble for something we did not report because I knew there was a limit on how far you could go out, and also I know if you dump, you have to get permission to do that from either the General Land Office or the Corps of Engineers.” Clark said. “...We are under a federal investigation at this time.”

Clark met with the Corps of Engineers at the site.

“They told me, ‘this is not good,’” she said. “Again, if (the contractor) had not stopped (dumping), we would have lots of problems.”

The Corps sent an email to the mayor, saying the discharge of fill material is in apparent violation of section 404 of the Clean Water Act. A case number has been assigned in the investigation and the mayor has 30 days to respond.

On Monday, Dahl said he responded to the Corps’ email immediately and that the Corps had sent an inspector to the site.

“I am waiting for a response now,” he said.

Clark had another concern.

“Why wasn’t the city council advised of this?” Clark asked. “We are the city council and we’re supposed to be approving things. Things are going on in this town that we don’t know about. I was elected to represent the people and I don’t want the people thinking that I’m part of the decisions that are going on when I am not.”

The council member was also concerned that the heavy, concrete-laden trucks caused damage to streets and sewer lines.

“So, that’s my complaint and why I put it on the agenda,” Clark said. “I needed to tell you what I did and the reason I did it, so the bayfront would not be damaged ... that’s our pride and joy.”

Dahl said he did not bring the decision before the council because he was not required to do so, the concrete was free, and did not involve the budget.

Dahl also said he was unaware that he had to have the Corps’ permission to put riprap on the shoreline.

The mayor took responsibility and said his intentions were good but admitted, “I shouldn’t have done it.”

Dahl also called attention to the concrete that lines other areas of the shoreline.

“It was stated that the concrete was supposed to be rebar free,” Dahl said. “It turned out not to be, unfortunately.”

The mayor said he talked to the (contractor) who agreed to cut out the rebar “but it turned out to be too big a job. So he said, let me just take it out,” the mayor said.

Longtime resident John Scott took issue with Dahl’s statement.

“Why would he do that?” John Scott asked. “He was told by y’all to (dump the concrete). He’s a demolition man. I don’t even know the man, but I feel sorry for him.”

John Scott told the council they should pay the contractor because the contractor did what he was asked to do, costing him $5,000.

“You won’t consider paying the man?” John Scott asked.

“No,” replied the mayor.

Former council member and lifelong resident Sharon Scott said every time riprap has been dumped for the last 15 years, a permit was obtained.

“You have a way of misleading things,” Sharon Scott said. “You also said you knew about this for a long time. Why didn’t you bring it before the council? No mayor in the past has taken the liberties you have.”

Bayside resident Kerry Riley said he wanted to “let these people know and understand what the potential is for this.”

Riley said the town violated the clean water act and may face fines, regardless if the cleanup has taken place. Should the Corps of Engineers decide to pursue the matter, Riley said “it might go to the Environmental Protection Agency. I’m just making you guys understand. No one thought of asking, that was what bothers me. That is the beachfront, and no one bothered asking.”

Clark said if she had not stopped the dumping when she did, the contractor would have dumped another 175 loads. At least 17 were removed. She also denied emphatically going public with the story.

“I want to let you know right now, I did not put (the story) on Channel 3,” Clark said. “If there’s something going on out there that I told Channel 3, I did not.”

Following the meeting, Scott said not paying the contractor was the most unfair thing he’d ever seen a town do.

“The contractor told me he is a demolition man and doesn’t remove rebar but that point is moot,” Scott said. “The town authorized the dumping of concrete in a restricted area without a permit. That’s a sacred area for the town. Then they refused to pay a man for cleaning up their mistake.”

Riley and Clark both had a copy of the emailed letter from the Corps of Engineers.

Last Thursday, part-time city worker Lorraine Dyche said she did not know who gave them copies of the letter.

“A lot of people have been coming in to get a copy,” she said.

Dyche said she could not provide the copies because she “could not find it.”
Comments
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markmin
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August 30, 2012
this mayor convinced a lot of people to vote for him because he said he could do a good job. the district attorney already investigated him for nepotism and made him take back city money he illegally paid a councilmembers husband and then the DA made him fire the guy. he bailed his good buddy out of jail that was busted for growing pot and having illegal weapons. he spends tax dollars like its nothing and put the town in debt and now wants to raise taxes. he argues with the councilmembers and won't let them do the job they were elected to do. official papers get "lost" in the city office. his excuse for all of his mistakes is that "he did not know".

no wonder he was fired from HEB ..... WOW
hardhead
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August 29, 2012
Witch hunt?????

Bulloney dirtdevil.

The mayor should have put it on the agenda and let the council vote as it had always been done before he took over. The council would have discussed it in a meeting and then voted. Citizens in the audience that know the laws could have informed them as they had to do after they already started dumping. They call him King Ken for a reason. He never informs anyone of what is going on and he doesn't let the council do their job. Just like him saying "No" to paying the contractor. Its not up to him. Its the councils decision by voting on it. Contractors do not have to get the permits - the city does. Learn your municipal laws like the mayor should. The former mayors and councilmembers did. The mayor also has TML and the city attorney to ask before doing anything but again, he doesn't. Small town or big town doesn't make a difference when it comes to TCEQ, GLO, the Attorneys Generals office and the EPA. Its the mayors responsibility.
MyaPinion
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August 24, 2012
"Dahl also said he was unaware that he had to have the Corps’ permission to put riprap on the shoreline."

Really?
dirtdeviltx
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August 25, 2012
Sounds like another witch hunt in Bayside. As a contractor who does demolition, I am responsible of knowing my work and regulations from abatement to disposal of materials. If the contractor didn't know the rules and he/she were a professional, then they knew they were breaking the law. I'm not sure a mayor of a small town would know any rules pertaining to demolitions work, and why would he. Dahl made a mistake, but the contractor should have known that what they were asking to do was illegal. The contractor should be held responsible for all fees and cost associated with the clean up, just as I would feel it would be on me for disregarding the rules they broke. Ever here of general liability insurance...that's why we have to have it. Lesson learned. Terry