DEC issues tickets for Phoenicia Hotel demo work

By Jay Braman Jr.
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued tickets last week to two local men involved in what DEC alleges was the unlawful disposal of remains of the Phoenicia Hotel, which burned one year ago and was knocked down two weeks ago.
The charges, which are misdemeanors and violations, were leveled at Harry Jameson, the owner of Romer Mountain Park in Woodland Valley and David Gutierrez, owner of Woodstock Landscaping.
Gutierrez is the contractor that demolished the remains of the Main Street landmark Phoenicia Hotel a couple weeks ago. While much of the debris remains on the site in a huge pile, some debris was allegedly trucked off site to Jameson’s property.
Rumors spread quickly that the material was being dumped at Jameson’s, although the stories of large dump truck loads appear to have been exaggerated.
Regardless, someone made a complaint to the DEC on June 25. DEC Police investigated and charged Jameson with operating a solid waste management facility without a permit. Gutierrez was charged with unattended open burning, open burning without a permit and open burning for commercial purposes. He was also charged with two counts of unlawfully disposing of solid waste.
According to Declan Feehan, the owner of the hotel property and personal friend of both Jameson and Gutierrez, the matter has been blown out of proportion. Feehan said that some wood from the hotel was trucked to Jameson’s for use later this summer when Jameson holds his annual community party, the focus of which is a large bonfire at twilight.
As for the open burning charges leveled at Gutierrez, Feehan said a small amount of wood from the hotel was also brought to another location in Lanesville for use as a fire starter to get a pile of recently cleared brush burning.
Feehan is disappointed because the charges make it sound like some diabolical, large scale operation to remove the debris.
He said that as a result of the publicity, Gutierrez has lost over $50,000 worth of work that had been scheduled for this year. Feehan said someone has been driving around to places where Gutierrez is working and telling the landowners of the charges and urging them to think twice about using the contractor.
Jameson and Gutierrez are to appear in Shandaken Justice Court.