Phoenicia sewer project remains clouded

Deadline extended for New York City system to serve the hamlet

By Jay Braman Jr.
As the clock ticks toward a June deadline for the Shandaken Town Board to make a decision about the Phoenicia sewer project, it remains unclear whether any steps will be taken at the next board meeting, slated for Monday, May 5 at 7 p.m., to determine one way or the other if the busy hamlet should take the plunge and build infrastructure to replace the inadequate septic systems that lace the landscape.
Phoenicia residents rejected the New York City wastewater treatment offer following a referendum last year, but the city kept the offer open until this June because the city believes a waste treatment system is the ideal method for handling Phoenicia’s effluent. On the hamlet’s end of things, many have said they would accept the system if the city, which is footing the bill for most of the project, came up with better financial terms for businesses and found a way to hook residents up to the system without charge. The city has not, to date, altered the offer.
Supervisor Peter DiSclafani is working with additional officials at the DEP to see what can be changed to make the offer acceptable to the Phoenicia Wastewater District, but at press time there was no word of any change.
After the referendum was defeated there was talk of a faction of the Phoenicia community investigating other ways to secure the system, but so far nothing along those lines has materialized.
In other news, the town is considering helping to fund SHARP’s flower project in Phoenicia. Last year the project, which lines Phoenicia’s business district with floral arrangements, became a political football and was dubbed “Flowergate” when the previous town administration under Supervisor Robert Cross Jr. appeared to be funneling town several thousand dollars to the program, to pay for the watering chores, without notifying anyone. As a result the current town board, ushered in last November by the winds of change, planned to not fund the program at all, according to SHARP’s Executive Director Buffy Kibe.
Kibe said this week that SHARP is moving forward with the program anyway. SHARP will contribute funds and hold fundraisers throughout the season to help pay for the project. Now, Kibe said, it appears the town board is prepared to come up with $2,000 to help out. It’s not the $6,000 SHARP had hoped for, but at least it’s something.
“I thought it was going to be zero,” she said.