Dayton spent more than $22,000 in legal bills this month.
The town’s rising attorney fees were discussed during the Dayton Town Board meeting Tuesday, July 15.
“I’m assuming that is the three days of hearings,” Supervisor Jim Peglow said when discussing the legal bills.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held a hearing after the Dayton Town Board and the Little Hope Lake District contested Waupaca County’s decision to abandon the Little Hope dam.
At the hearing, attorney Ted Warpinski represented the town of Dayton during three days of testimony, while attorney Ryan Braithwaite represented the lake district.
Warpinski is also the legal counsel for the closed East Road landfill.
Although located in Dayton near the Little Hope area, the landfill is jointly managed by the three town boards of Dayton, Farmington and Lind.
Dayton Town Chairman Chris Klein has argued that the dam’s removal is impacting the groundwater flow beneath the landfill.
After volatile organic compounds were discovered in the groundwater near the East Road landfill more than 20 years ago, the three towns spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to install monitoring wells. Klein believes that draining the mill pond may shift the groundwater flow, which would require the towns to install new wells.
“Is this going to be dispersed between the three townships because it is based on the landfill?” Peglow asked Klein.
“That has not been established,” Klein said.
When Peglow made the motion to pay the town’s monthly bills, he added to the motion that the town chairman contact the other two towns regarding legal bills on the dam.
Farmington Town Chairman Dale Trinrud said Farmington will not help pay for the legal costs associated with the dam.
“I had a conversation with Chris before he ever started, and I told him we would not participate in the paying of those legal bills,” Trinrud told the Waupaca County Post. “I told Ted (Warpinski) that we are not going to get involved.”
Trinrud said Farmington is responsible for 64 percent of the costs associated with the landfill.
Since it was closed in 1990, most of the landfill’s costs were due to monitoring the area’s groundwater for chemical compounds. Over time, the levels of those compounds have diminished.
“History is on our side,” Trinrud said, noting that environmental engineers predicted the landfill’s leachate problems would be resolved over time through “natural attenuation.”
Trinrud said he did not believe the towns needed to relocate the network of monitoring wells around the landfill due to the dam’s removal.
“We have a perimeter of wells around the landfill,” Trinrud said. “It may change the groundwater flow, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to change what’s coming out of that landfill.”
During public input at the July 15 town board meeting, several citizens questioned Klein about the legal costs associated with efforts to save the dam.
They wondered why the town’s insurance was not covering the costs of the litigation.
“I prefer not to discuss this because we have litigants that are in the room,” Klein said.
Citizens also asked Klein if the Little Hope dam could be turned over to the town of Dayton and whether there would be a referendum before such a decision was made.
“The decision would depend on how the transfer was made and what the requirements of the transfer would be,” Klein said. “It’s not really possible to speculate.”
Klein said the decision to transfer the dam from the county to the town of Dayton would not be made through a referendum.