Warren gets $7,300 to pay for junk docks’ removal

docks

The Town of Warren is getting financial help to recoup costs it incurred overseeing the removal of illegal docks that languished on the Kickemuitt River for nearly a year before being removed this spring.

The money — $7,346.48 — was sent to Warren Town Solicitor Anthony DeSisto Friday. It came from the foreclosure of the land of former 1 Libby Lane resident Thomas Koolen, who had installed the docks in attempt to start an unpermitted marina.  The docks were removed earlier this year, and the home later sold at foreclosure auction to Robert Avila.

The money, combined with prior payments of $200, fully compensates the town for expenses incurred in guarding over and cleaning up a particular threat to the environment and public safety – the docks on the Kickemuitt River.

In July 2011, Mr. Koolen installed more than 100 floats off his property without a Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) permit. When he failed to obey a CRMC order to remove the floats from his property, CRMC instituted suit in fall 2011.  In the meantime, the docks began to run astray and threatened boaters. Several derelict boats he also brought to the upper river also became a threat, and were removed just after Christmas 2011.

When Mr. Koolen filed for bankruptcy late last year in an attempt to stop the proceedings against him in State court, Attorney General Peter Kilmartin joined with CRMC in filing a lawsuit.  The Attorney General’s Office successfully argued that the State court action against Koolen was exempt from the bankruptcy proceedings.

“We wanted to prevent a misuse of the Federal Bankruptc y process and Mr. Koolen’s attempt to continue an unlawful environmental hazard,” Mr. Kilmartin said.  “Environmental clean-ups are rarely fully reimbursed.  I am particularly pleased that the funds do not come from the taxpayers.”

Last December, a Superior Court judge found Mr. Koolen in willful contempt of a prior court order by failing to remove the docks. Then, on April 3, the judge ordered Mr. Koolen incarcerated at the ACI for one night for contempt.  Eventually, Mr. Koolen removed the docks but not before the town police and harbormaster incurred costs supervising the situation and keeping an officer on the scene to prevent kids from playing on the docks.

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