Smaller sewer reccommended for Phoenicia

By Jay Braman Jr.
The Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) and its engineers are recommending that Phoenicians do what everyone in the country is doing these days. Don’t get what you need. Get what you can afford.

They came to Shandaken Town Hall last week to present a sewer system plan for the hamlet after several other plans have failed to excite the majority of users in what is the proposed Phoenicia Sewer District, a sprawling locale that not only takes in the main business district but also up Route 214 past the Phoenicia Elementary School, the entrance to Woodland Valley and the adjacent neighborhood known as the Flats, east on the Old Plank Road and both upper and lower High streets across Route 28 from the business district and the Esopus Creek.

In the past 14 years, no less than five different project plans have surfaced and all have been rejected.

According to Lamont Engineering, which has been studying five different options, it would cost between $25 million and $30 million to build a system for the entire district and between $550,000 and $600,000 a year to run it.
But here’s the rub.

The City of New York, which is footing the bill to build the system, only has only about $16 million to do the job. So Lamont has proposed shrinking the size of the system to only serve the hamlet proper, meaning the business district and adjoining side streets, with hope that sometime down the road the system can be expanded to cover the entire district.

That means servicing only 76 homes instead of the 217 that are in the district. Only six two- family homes would get hooked up instead of 18 and 69 apartments instead of 84. The only number that has grown is the number of commercial businesses, up from 20 units to 22.

Those 22 businesses put together, according to Lamont, would need to pay about $22,000 a year for operating costs. Residences, as has always been the case, would pay $100 a year for the service. The brunt of the annual cost would be paid by New York, which would kick in over $400,000 annually.

Don’t expect any decision on whether to go with the plan anytime soon, says Supervisor Rob Stanley.

“The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has to review it first and decide if they will approve it or not,” he said.

Stanley also says that the matter will not fall into the hands of the town board like it has in all the other Watershed communities that have taken part in this program. Rather than the town board deciding, the matter will be placed up for a referendum vote before the property owners within the district.

Look for much discussion on this during the winter.