Woodmere Club developers Efrem Gerszberg and Robert Weiss were fined $1,000 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conversation for two violations — having an applicator improperly apply an herbicide to the golf course and another for improper recordkeeping. Each fine was $500.
Gerszberg and Weiss noted that they received a violation for using less chemicals than the prescribed amount. They said they disagreed with the DEC, but to fight it would have cost much more than the fine.
“We appreciate the DEC finding no validity to the frivolous complaints of the harassing neighbors,” Gerszberg said in an emailed statement. “We also received a citation for a minor clerical error related to having the wrong address for the superintendent.”
Alejandro De Angulo allegedly improperly applied Ranger Pro herbicide to the Woodmere Club’s golf course in April. Instead of using the chemical at the recommended label direction rate of two to five quarts per acre, the DEC found that Ranger Pro was applied at 16 ounces per acre. Herbicides are used to kill unwanted vegetation such as grass and weeds. In addition, the
DEC found that De Angulo did not record dosage rate, method of application, the target organism and the location by address and place of application as required by law.
Though the application of the herbicide was less than the suggested use, the DEC pointed out that according to state codes, rules and regulations, “Pesticides are to be used only in accordance with label and labeling direction or as modified or expanded and approved by the department.”
“In this case the respondents are alleged to have failed to comply with pesticide label directions by applying less than the application as it is written on the product label,” DEC officials stated in an email. “Pesticides are formulated to be effective based upon following label instructions and deviating from labeling, including diluting the pesticide, can have deleterious effects, including the development of resistant target organisms.” Target organisms are what is being addressed, whether its animals, bugs, grass or weeds.
Dead wildlife was found across the course in April. “I saw different trucks laying down chemicals on one side of the golf course and it wasn’t marked, I was concerned,” Woodsburgh resident Harold Klein said. No animal deaths have been liked to the chemical misuse, the DEC said.
He said that a week went by and after a few days of rain noticed that the course’s golf was “scorched” while his home’s grass was quite green. He saw a dead swan, a dead bird and two dead squirrels on the club’s course. He contacted the South Shore Audubon Society. Both the society and Klein contacted the DEC. Klein then also called State Sen. Todd Kaminsky’s office.
“We contacted the DEC and there was nothing from them,” Klein said. “Then finally a few weeks ago, I FOILed for the violation report. To me this is quality of life. This is an amazing area. Wildlife kind of revitalized itself.”
Since being purchased by Gerszberg and Weiss in 2017, the club has been a vortex of controversy from the developers initial plan to build 284 single family homes on 114.5 acres of the club’s 118 acres, including multiple lawsuits and a pending $200 million legal action filed by Gerszberg and Weiss challenging the creation of a Coastal Conservation District that the Town of Hempstead and the villages of Lawrence and Woodsburgh approved last year. It would prune the number of houses that could be built from 284 to 83.