MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Town Councilman Michael Barile has once again found himself in the crosshairs of a Journal News column. This one looks at whether commercial property owned by the councilman, a former developer, was ever connected to the town’s sewer system and also claims some of the permitting processes was skirted.
In question is the sewer disposal system at Blu Restaurant on Route 6N—property owned by Barile and his partner, Tommy Boniello.
Three decades ago, the business was known as Mahopac Beach, a hamburger stand, which Barile and Boniello purchased and remodeled into an upscale restaurant.
In 1993, while the state was conducting roadwork on Route 6N, a sewer line was extended from the restaurant under the highway and capped so it could be connected to the main in Sewer District No. 1 should the restaurant expand and more capacity was needed. The line was never actually connected to the main, however, and in the Journal News piece, the author, David McKay Wilson said he was given the opportunity to look under the manhole cover and see that the restaurant connection is indeed capped-off and not hooked into the town system.
Barile said he was reluctant to discuss Wilson’s column in too much detail—Barile has said on several occasions he is consulting with attorneys over a possible lawsuit against the Journal News over a previous column Wilson penned about the purchase of Swan Cove—but did answer a few questions.
To Wilson’s accusation that the restaurant lacks a discharge permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Barile said it was because it was “pre-existing and nonconforming,” and noted that many restaurants don’t have such permits.
“This is why I got out of developing,” Barile lamented. “It’s because of all the regulatory agencies that got involved in the watershed area back in the ’90s.”
The JN column also contends that the restaurant’s septic system has not been inspected in eight years, which is a town code violation.
“I have never really heard of anything like that, so I can’t really comment,” Barile said. “We have other buildings where nothing gets inspected for the septic. I don’t know where [Wilson] got that from.”
Wilson’s piece also contends that neither the town nor the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approved the connection to Sewer District No. 1. But Barile pointed out that since the line was never actually connected to the sewer district main, as Wilson saw when the manhole cover was removed, no permit was needed.
The lynchpin for Wilson’s allegation of impropriety is a September 2015 email that Supervisor Ken Schmitt sent to other town officials regarding the work being done on the restaurant property. In his column, Wilson describes that email and writes, “Carmel Town Supervisor Ken Schmitt [wrote] that Barile told him that the restaurant was ‘absolutely connected’ to the sewer district.” In that scenario, Barile comes off looking disingenuous because the sewer line was never actually connected, although that email makes it seem as though he was claiming it had been.
However, in a statement Schmitt gave to Mahopac News, the supervisor said he accidentally misquoted Barile in that email because he misunderstood what Barile was referring to when they talked. He said Barile was talking to him about gas lines, not sewer lines, but he didn’t realize it.
“I wrote in that email that Mike Barile told me that the restaurant is connected to the sewer district along with other properties along 6N, which are connected to the same line,” Schmitt wrote in his statement. “This was an incorrect statement and a result of a miscommunication between Mike Barile and me. The gas line is connected to the Blu Restaurant property, along with other properties to the south of Clark Place.”
Schmitt said that he made Wilson aware of the mistake in the email, and even facilitated Wilson’s inspection of the capped-off sewer line under 6N hoping that would put the issue to rest. It did not.
Here is what Schmitt had to say about it:
“David Wilson has launched a fusillade against Barile, ending in his most recent persecution regarding the dry sewer force main drain installed in the shoulder of Route 6N from Blue Restaurant,” Schmitt’s statement said. “This property is not in the sewer district. The line was installed in 1993. At that time, the [state Department of Transportation] had 6N…closed for a major construction project. As such, the installation of that line was relatively easy.
“So, Barile and his then partner, with the permission of NYSDOT and the Town of Carmel, installed a ‘dry’ line with the idea that in the future, if the restaurant was ever expanded, they could apply to the town for an out-of-district connection. Out-of-district connections are common in the town of Carmel, as there are currently 23 between water and sewer. The dry sewer force main was tied into the sewer manhole and was capped. The capped line has been inspected over the last 23 years to verify it has remained capped.
“Indeed, the most recent inspection was conducted about two weeks ago by David Wilson on the notion that a Doubting Thomas must see for himself. What he saw was a capped line, which he photographed.”
Barile told Mahopac News that representatives from the state and county will inspect the restaurant’s dry line this week, which could pave the way for hooking it into the sewer district’s main.
Several months ago, Wilson wrote a column criticizing the town’s purchase of Swan Cove and Barile’s involvement in it. Wilson contended, among other things, that Barile, one of the property’s former owners, claimed that the necessary permits for the land were in place, when they actually were not, thus inflating the property’s value and causing the town to pay more than it should have. The town purchased the land for $1 million and plans to construct a small lakeside park. Barile has called that column grossly inaccurate and libelous and said he has been consulting with attorneys over a possible lawsuit.