Middletown, NY – There were no niceties at a press conference held this past Friday evening by Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano.
Instead, the long term mayor lashed out at his Kiryas Joel counterparts, saying that village officials had lied in court documents in one lawsuit and urged opponents of Kiryas Joel’s 164 acre annexation proposal to look for similar mistruths in that case as well.
According to Mid Hudson News (http://bit.ly/2nV4V9O), Kiryas Joel sued the city of Middletown when it tried to acquire water from the Indigot Creek, located between Middletown and Port Jervis. In its lawsuit, Kiryas Joel officials claimed a village water shortage, and insisted that the village also had rights to the creek’s water supply.
But in court papers filed by Kiryas Joel in 2014 in its proposal to annex another 164 acres into its boundaries, village officials said that it its water supply was sufficient for the existing village and the additional land it hoped to acquire from the Town of Monroe.
“Kiryas Joel either lied in defending the annexation lawsuit, or it’s lying in the lawsuit against the city and the county over the Indigot Reservoir,” DeStefano told Spectrum News (http://bit.ly/2nojxx3)
Kiryas Joel officials turned to Middletown to support its annexation bid, warning of repercussions if the city refused, according to DeStefano.
“They tried to blackmail the city, saying that if you don’t help us with the annexation, then we’re going to pursue this lawsuit against you and try to block a project that has been beneficial for the city of Middletown, Goshen and Wawayanda,” said DeStefano.
Kiryas Joel recently withdrew its opposition to the Indigot Creek project. According to DeStefano, the village claimed that it no longer needed water from the creek, located over 30 miles from Kiryas Joel, because it had received approvals on a water pipeline in Cornwall to meet the village’s growing needs, but DeStefano said that those approvals were given a year ago.
“The problem is that once you start lying, you can’t believe anything they say to either of the courts,” said DeStefano.
DeStefano, who was convicted in 2005 on two misdemeanor charges for failing to disclose his financial interests as reported by the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/2nj4qDv), said that Kiryas Joel officials tried to pressure Middletown into using its influence to help get the Cornwall pipeline approved. In return, Kiryas Joel reportedly agreed to drop its lawsuit against the Indigot Creek proposal.
“The judges need to know what they did,” said DeStefano. “It casts a lot of doubt on the village leadership. When you lie to the court it need to be exposed.”
DeStefano noted that his issues were with Kiryas Joel officials, and not village residents.
“If they want war, we’re going to give them war,” said DeStefano. “We caught them in a lie and now they are trying to back out of it.”
Kiryas Joel officials did not immediately return calls for comment.