Greenville inquiry will take time, chairman says
GREENVILLE - The Town Board is working with attorneys to investigate the illegal dredging of a karst feature and disappearing stream on farmland west of State 76, but it will take time, Town Chairman Jack Anderson said Tuesday.
"It is important we perform this review not in haste, but with proper attention to details and through a thorough plan for corrective actions," Anderson said in a statement.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Outagamie County have held Greenville accountable for the dredging, which was done without required permits. The $13,985 project was directed by Town Supervisor Mike Woods, who rents the farmland, but inexplicably was billed to and paid for by the town.
Regulators ordered the town to stabilize and restore the karst area or face fines of as much as $10,000 a day. The damage done to the karst feature – an opening in the ground caused by the dissolution of bedrock – raises the risk of groundwater contamination and flooding.
The town has paid $32,950 for temporary erosion controls. Regulators say the restoration could cost $100,000 or more.
Town attorney Richard Carlson told residents who attended the town's annual meeting that the division of responsibilities and costs will be sorted out "as time goes on." The parties potentially liable include the town; Woods; the contractor that did the dredging, Robert J. Immel Excavating Inc.; and the landowner, the Lin family.
Anderson's statement said the Town Board is "very concerned" about the dredging. He previously said the Town Board wasn't aware of the project until after the work had been completed.
"Significant oversight in town policies and procedures has led to a need to thoroughly review staff involvement and take appropriate disciplinary actions if warranted when full details are known," Anderson said.
He also said the Town Board has made it a priority "to address the internal town policies and procedural lapses that allowed this to occur."
The Town Board — except for Woods — has met in closed session in recent weeks to discuss the illegal dredging. The board also has met with staff and with residents who suggested the town hire an independent investigator to determine who is responsible for the mess.
Anderson said the board hasn't decided whether to hire an independent investigator, and he didn't know when that decision would be made.
"It's very limited what I can share with you today," Anderson told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. "Maybe in the weeks to come I can share more."
Duke Behnke: 920-993-7176, or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @DukeBehnke