Councilman Mike Barile’s alleged unauthorized connection to a sewer system for a restaurant he owns in Lake Mahopac.
Councilpersons John Lupinacci, Suzi McDonough and Jonathan Schneider agreed to retain the services of Cozen O’Connor to look into the accusations that reached a fever pitch at a September 18 meeting when Barile lashed out at a Journal News columnist for alleged biased reporting and then grabbed the reporter’s cell phone and tossed it outside.
Barile recused himself from the October 2 vote, while Supervisor Kenneth Schmitt, who called the scuffle two weeks ago “an embarrassment,” abstained.
However, prior to the vote, Schmitt said he agreed with the need to bring in an outside legal eye, commenting “we need to start this process quickly.” He also said retaining Cozen O’Connor could cost the town more than $40,000.
“I’m just looking for the I’s to be dotted and the T’s to be crossed,” McDonough said.
As reported in The Putnam Examiner, a letter from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection stated that Blu at the Lakehouse, the restaurant owned by Barile, was connected to a sewer and not using a septic system. Earlier this year, Barile said that the property did use septic. A dye test on the existing septic field was done on September 4 by the DEP and discovered the force main for the Blu Restaurant was online. According to Barile, the cap on the force main at Route 6N and Clark Place had been removed the previous week. The Putnam County Department of Health sent a violation to Barile for non-compliance.
On September 3, Barile told The Putnam Examiner that he disconnected from his septic field and connected to the sewer so the DEP could run a test to inspect the manhole and sewer line. He also claimed that the town engineering department had been aware of the sewer hookup.
“I’m not looking for exoneration,” Barile remarked at last week’s meeting.
Jennifer Maher, chairperson of the Putnam Business Council, said the controversy with Barile has cast a dark shadow on the town.
“It’s really sad that it turned into this circus,” she told the town board. “It makes me sad our town is being made a fool of. It’s a simple violation. It’s a citation. It doesn’t make anyone corrupt. It’s something that happens quite often.”
Resident Charles Melchner agreed the board had a tough challenge ahead, saying, “We need to build trust in our community.”