A Hummel Report Investigation
Six months ago the state’s new Director of Business Regulation - citing a public safety hazard - vowed to enforce cleanup orders that had been largely ignored for more than two decades by the owner of a West Greenwich junkyard. But nothing has changed since we visited the site last fall, and the director tells The Hummel Report his agency will have to go to court to get it done.
This was the scene six months ago when we visited Norman ``Junior’’ Carpenter’s massive junkyard in West Greenwich - decade’s worth of accumulated old vehicles, tires and car parts, with the occasional school bus mixed in.
Government officials had agreed it was a public safety threat for any vehicles neededing to get through the deeply-rutted trail for a fire or other emergency.
And a top state administrator was talking tough.
McCleary: ``This is getting done within a concrete period of time. Or the hammer is going to drop.’’
Macky McCleary, director of the state Department of Business Regulation, which oversees all junkyards in Rhode Island, had been on the job six months when he told us in September it was time to enforce local and state orders Carpenter had largely ignored for more than two decades.
Last week, this is how the junkyard looked. With the exception of some lingering snow and no leaves on the trees, virtually nothing had changed over the past six months.
Assalone: ``I don’t see any sanctions, I don’t see any fines, the state is absolutely disingenuous in what they said before.’’
John Assalone owns property adjacent to Carpenter’s land - property he says has been seriously devalued by all of the junk.
Hummel: ``There was tough talk from the state: not going to let this happen, going to make him clean it up. Do you see any change out here?’’
Assalone: ``There have been no changes out here and I think it’s becoming typical Rhode Island, not only in this situation, but more taxes, more bureaucracy, more rules and regulations and if people don’t follow them, so what? Hire an attorney.’’
And that’s exactly what Assalone did, hiring lawyer William Harsch, who filed a suit two years ago in an effort to get the property cleaned up.
Harsch: ``This place was never declared a superfund site but it could have been - and in my mind should have been. DEM should have been far more active, but they were not.’’
So what has the state been doing since last fall? We sat down with McCleary again late last week for an update.