The Sardinia Town Board has rejected Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco's offer to mediate its gravel mining dispute with the Gernatt Asphalt Products Co.
The dispute, which has raged since 1989, has generated three unresolved lawsuits over Gernatt's desire to mine its 400-acre Gabel-Thomas site off Route 16. A new round of oral arguments before Supreme Court Justice Barbara Howe is scheduled for Nov. 12.
At stake for Gernatt is the extraction of sand and gravel valued at millions of dollars.
At stake for Sardinia is the right to control mining within the town, a position upheld by the State Court of Appeals.
As for the state's role in the dispute, the Department of Environmental Conservation's denial of a permit tests its interpretations and statutory authority.
Francis T. Gaglione, Gernatt's attorney, told a May hearing before Justice Howe that he may sue the town to recover the several millions of dollars already spent buying the land and preparing it for mining.
Vacco's mediation offer was presented in an Oct. 7 letter from Assistant Attorney-General Paul F. McCarthy who has been representing the DEC.
After observing that the dispute has been prolonged and costly, McCarthy wrote:
"The adoption of a new approach is advisable. Accordingly, Attorney-General Vacco, and his client, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, would like the parties to sit down, individually and collectively, to re-evaluate their respective positions in an attempt to arrive at a resolution that is fair and equable to all concerned.
"Our office stands ready, willing and able at any time or place, in arriving at a resolution."
After the letter was read at the Town Board's Oct. 10 meeting, its four attending members went into an executive session to consider the offer. They then voted unanimously to instruct its attorney to reject the offer.