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Whistleblower: Septic vented inside building where children play

Updated: 04/20/2014 12:43 AM
Created: 04/20/2014 12:11 AM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch

SCHUYLERVILLE – The outgoing program director of the Schuylerville Youth Program fears children and staff were exposed to toxic septic gas inside the recreation center at Fort Hardy Park for the last 27 years.

Kate Leone told NewsChannel 13 she recently discovered the septic pipe was venting inside the attic: an apparent violation of a state code that requires the pipe to extend to the "outer air."

The program’s executive director, Joanne Sciurba, and the village mayor, John Sherman, did not want to hear about it, Leone said.

"They don't acknowledge the problem exists," Leone said. "It is my opinion that the mayor is at the source of trying to cover up the fact that this septic gas was piped inside for all these years."

Mayor Sherman declined to comment on the situation, saying it is "not a story." Sciurba also declined to comment, except to say that Leone is "wrong."

Sherman and Sciurba are the only two members of the program’s board of directors, even though the by-laws require at least seven members, Leone said.

"Two people cannot effectively have all the knowledge that’s required to run a place like this," Leone said, holding a copy of the by-laws.

Citing the continued conflict, Leone is resigning as program director at the end of the month. But she said the building is in better shape today than when she started in November.

Leone said she used ammonia and water to remove black mold from the ceiling tiles and under the sinks. And – for the first time, she said – the building has carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors.

As for the septic, Leone said she used 25 feet of three-inch PVC piping to jury-rig a way to vent the gas outside the building.

"I was hoping that I would get the support to say that, 'Oh, you're looking at things. You're doing a good job,'" Leone said, reflecting on her stint as program director.

"But no, instead it seems to be that it's perceived as anything I do to make things better only makes someone else look bad," she said.

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