Jan. 28, 2009: Lost opportunity for Phoenicia residents


To The Editor:
I was dismayed to discover that at its January meeting, the Shandaken Town Board has apparently failed to make any progress whatsoever toward obtaining a workable wastewater treatment system for the hamlet of Phoenicia. This worries me in part due to anxiety that my own aging septic system may fail. But I’m also concerned about the consequences for the community as a whole.
A hamlet sewer system would both solve problems and open up a lot of opportunities. I’ll mention just one. Many properties along Church Street (and elsewhere in the hamlet) have unusually deep back yards. There is more than enough land behind the existing homes to install cottages large enough for one or two people, while still retaining an attractive lawn or garden. Such cottages could provide reasonably priced, handicapped-accessible rental units within walking distance of all hamlet businesses and services—something that is badly needed in this community. They could also provide existing homeowners with supplemental income, which is also needed by many of our neighbors.
Sadly, without a hamlet sewer system, the opportunity for this kind of small scale, environmentally friendly in-fill development will be lost. Why? Because without sewers, the extra land has to be held for septic systems, and nothing can be constructed on it.
Phoenicia has lost opportunities before, whether due to fear or lack of imagination, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, let’s not do it again.

Patricia L. Elllison,