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.”