After alleged violations of Clean Water Act at Jayhawk Club, EPA reaches settlement with company controlled by Thomas Fritzel

photo by: Nick Krug

Defendant Thomas S. Fritzel leaves the Frank Carlson Federal Courthouse in Topeka, Kan. on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached settlement agreements with Eagle 1968 LC and Kings Construction Co. Inc. to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act at the Jayhawk Club golf course.

As part of the settlement, the companies agreed to pay close to $400,000 in penalties and take steps to restore damage to streams and resolve other environmental harm that was done to the property.

Lawrence developer and four-time felon Thomas Fritzel is the resident agent of Eagle 1968 LC, meaning he is responsible for the entity, and Kent A. King of Oskaloosa is the resident agent of Kings Construction, according to business entity information filed with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. Eagle 1968 owns the property and hired Kings Construction to do grading and excavation work at the site, according to a news release from the EPA.

This is not the first time the federal government has alleged that Fritzel violated environmental protection laws when completing renovation and remodeling work at the Jayhawk Club, which was previously known as Alvamar County Club when under different ownership. Fritzel was convicted of felonies in two federal cases in 2019, and was released from prison on July 1 of this year for good behavior after serving about 10 months of his yearlong sentence. Fritzel was found guilty of three felony counts related to the illegal disposal of asbestos during a remodel of the golf course’s clubhouse, and, in a separate case, pleaded guilty to a felony count of criminal conspiracy related to the collection of fraudulent tax refunds from his development of The Oread hotel. In addition to the remodeling of the clubhouse that was the subject of the 2019 case, Fritzel also made significant changes to the golf course and surrounding area after he took over the property.

In the settlement documents, the EPA alleged that Eagle 1968 and Kings Construction discharged pollutants into approximately 7,000 feet of streams by placing fill material into the streams and grading over 256 acres of land as part of the renovation of the former Alvamar Country Club, according to the news release. The EPA also says that the companies did the work without obtaining the required Clean Water Act permits. Under the Clean Water Act, parties are required to obtain permits if they plan to fill in streams and wetlands or if they propose to disturb over an acre of land adjacent to waters.

Under the terms of the settlement, the EPA states that the companies agreed to restore streams at the site; conserve restored portions of the site; and purchase “mitigation bank” credits at a local stream and wetland preserve at a cost of approximately $300,000. The companies will also pay civil penalties totaling over $84,000.

Diane Huffman, acting director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, said in the release that the settlement represents a win for the environment.

“These companies’ restoration and conservation efforts will protect local waters, and the civil penalties will deter future noncompliance with the Clean Water Act,” Huffman said.