Local Tree Service Caught Dumping Debris in Back of New Rochelle Schools

Written By: Robert Cox

Ward WoodChips 1485

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — A local tree service has been disposing of tons of debris at New Rochelle public schools going back at least three years, Talk of the Sound has learned. Piles of wood chips, often loaded with chemicals, termites and other insects, have been routinely dumped behind Albert Leonard Middle School and Ward Elementary School, sources tell Talk of the Sound.

Piles of wood chips, typically 6 to 8 feet tall, anywhere from 2 to 20 piles on a give day, are then spread around by school district grounds staff, often working overtime on weekends. Two such piles were dumped at Ward Elementary School in the past 48 hours. The wood chips are not used for decorative purposes.

Benny’s Tree Service was never contracted to deliver wood chips to New Rochelle schools. No such contract was ever put out by the District and Benny’s Tree Service is not an approved vendor. This appears to be simply a matter of a New Rochelle company illegally dumping on school district property with the connivance of employees within the District’s notoriously corrupt Buildings & Grounds department.

Sources tell Talk of the Sound, the dumping deal was overseen by former Buildings and Grounds Director John Gallagher, an Aramark consultant working for the District and James Bonanno, a working-foreman supervising the District grounds crew out of the Cliff Street yard.

Time sheets filed by District employees routinely indicated overtime pay for “spreading wood chips”, approved by Gallagher and signed for by Bonanno. No one above Gallagher, including his immediate boss former Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration John Quinn, appears to have questioned why these two schools required hundreds of hours of overtime to spread wood chips over a three year period.

Gallagher was removed from the New Rochelle schools by Aramark over the summer at the request of the District. Quinn was fired by the school board in June.

Bonanno, currently under a 30-day suspension with the anticipation of termination, has been involved in a variety of similar schemes including running waste hauling businesses using district equipment, a scrap metal business and others.

The most recent dump — two six-foot piles of wood chips – was made over the past 48 hours at Ward Elementary School, left near the back play area of the school. Complaints are about the piles were brought to the attention of the Ward school administration after children were observed climbing on the piles.

BennyTreeServiceBernardo F. Rivera, the owner of Benny’s Tree Service of 49 Park Place in New Rochelle, NY, was hostile and uncooperative when reached for comment by Talk of the Sound.

“We didn’t do anything that wasn’t requested,”, said Rivera. “They [the District] have their own maintenance, you should get in touch with them”.

“their own maintenance” appears to be a reference to Gallagher and Bonanno.

The District did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

4 thoughts on “Local Tree Service Caught Dumping Debris in Back of New Rochelle Schools”

  1. Wood Chips
    A few weeks ago I noticed a large pile of wood chips at the top of the hill next to the Albert Leonard ball fields. My wife told me she has seen that before and that the chips are used around the school property. I was going to comment on their use because years ago I was told not to use fresh wood chips around my plantings because they tie up nitrogen and prevent it from getting into the soil. So before commenting I did a little research and found the following article from Washington State University, Puyallup Research & Extension Center. http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~linda%20chalker-scott/horticultural%20myths_files/Myths/magazine%20pdfs/Woodchips.pdf

    1. “the chips are used around the school property”
      Your wife’s impression is understandable but it is not that chips are “used” as in they are acquired for the purpose of decorating but that they do shove them around to get rid of them. Of course, if you ask Jimmy Bonanno or John Gallagher they will certainly tell you they had some noble purpose. That would be untrue.

  2. Benny’s Tree Service
    Benny’s Tree Service was started Thirty-Five years ago by my Father. It’s a small family run business. We avoid a trade name, because our family name is important to us. Growing up we were all apart of The New Rochelle School districts, and we proudly appreciate New Rochelle. My youngest daughter is a current student in the New Rochelle School District. In response to this article, we would like to highlight that we were requested by the school’s maintenance crew, to bring wood chips. I would never proceed to do anything unethical. Our reputation is important to us, and by no means did we believe bringing the wood chips was illegal. In addition, I would like to mention that the wood chips we use are strictly from the trees of our residential customers. After the trees are cut the wood chips are placed through the wood chipper, and any bugs and termites would be killed on site. We are proud of our company, and intend to do our best work for all our customers.

    1. You declined to be interviewed for this story
      Mr. Rivera,

      You are welcome to comment on this site as is your wife and daughter, as all three of you apparently requested accounts on this site today..

      However, just to be clear, you were contacted and asked to discuss the wood chips. You were uncooperative and hung up the telephone.

      As you now appear ready to discuss the matter, perhaps you might like to answer some of the questions I had sought to ask you on the telephone.

      Who on the “school’s maintenance crew” requested that you dump wood chips on school property?

      Did anyone money change hands?

      When were you first requested to dump wood chips on school property?

      How many times have you dumped wood chips on school property?

      What quantity of wood chips have you dumped on school property?

      Can you confirm that you dumped wood chips at Albert Leonard Middle School and Ward Elementary School?

      Why did you only dump wood chips at those two schools? Or were there others?

      Do you have any sort of contract or other paperwork related to any “requests” to dump wood chips on school property?

      Wood chips were dumped at Ward Elementary School just a few days ago; who requested those wood chip be dumped at the school on that day?

      Have you ever socialized with Jimmy Bonanno or otherwise interacted with him outside of school district business?

      Have you ever been hunting with Jimmy Bonanno?

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