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Asharoken 'Cleanup Day' dispute back in court

Drew Mendelsohn, an Asharoken resident who received two

Drew Mendelsohn, an Asharoken resident who received two summonses after he spent a day dragging large pieces of geoweb and other village debris out of the wetlands during Coastal Cleanup Day this month and left them on his beach parking lot to be picked up by the village. The summonses were for littering and leaving garbage out. (Oct. 30, 2011) Credit: Steve Pfost

The case against Asharoken resident Drew Mendelsohn, who was summonsed by the village after he took garbage and other debris from a wetland during a volunteer coastal cleanup and dumped it on his property, is slated to return to court Wednesday.

Mendelsohn's lawyer, Edward Yule, said he made a motion to dismiss the case about six months ago and hopes that happens Wednesday.

On Oct. 1 last year, Mendelsohn participated in the village's Coastal Cleanup Day by wading in Duck Island Cove, removing large pieces of plastic webbing, boat parts and an old village sign. He pulled the debris out and placed them on his personal beach parking lot for pickup by the village.

He was served with two summonses the next day for depositing garbage on his lot, and for leaving garbage out the night before a collection, each carrying a maximum $250 fine. Both summonses stated that Mendelsohn was directed to remove the garbage from his beach lot by then-mayor Patricia Irving.

Mendelsohn said he couldn't load the debris, especially the plastic webbing, into his small car to take to Village Hall for dumping.

Instead, he said, village officials and coastal cleanup organizers told him it would be fine if he left the large items by the side of the road for Monday's trash pickup. Former village attorney Kenneth Savin disputed that account.

"He was specifically told by the people running [Coastal Cleanup Day] that he could not do that, that we're not doing a special garbage run," Savin said in November, after Mendelsohn pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. "The code just says you can't leave it there."

Savin said then that not having a car large enough for the materials Mendelsohn found was not a defense.

Savin will not be prosecuting the case, because he wasn't reappointed as village attorney by Mayor Gregory Letica, who defeated Irving in last month's election. The village has hired former village attorney Laure Nolan to temporarily represent it in court.

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