Hotel owner waits on sewer plan

By Jay Braman Jr.
Demolition of the Phoenicia Hotel resumed briefly this month, when crews and equipment chopped away more of the burned and rotted remains that were left behind from a suspicious fire that destroyed the old building almost one year ago. This phase, which has now halted, follows an initial effort to remove the debris earlier this spring.
It remains unclear when the final removal will take place, as the owner, Declan Feehan, has stated that he intends to leave much of it there while he awaits word on whether the hamlet will get a sewer system installed.
According to Shandaken Supervisor Peter DiSclafani, The City of New York, which is offering $17 million to build the system, has not altered the offer rejected by referendum by the Phoenicia wastewater district last year.
But last month the city approved funding for a feasibility study for the use of constructed wetlands to replace the drying beds. DiSclafani says constructed wetlands could drastically reduce the operation and maintenance cost of the current designed plant to become the standard for watershed systems.
“The study should be completed some time in July for perusal and Q & A by the district,” he said.
Opponents of the sewer plan have drawn a hard line, demanding that the city own the system and give the service to Phoenicia for free.
City officials have consistently maintained that there will be no discussion of that, and are prepared to take the $17 million allocated for Phoenicia and give it to some other community in the watershed region for a sewer system should Phoenicia decline the city’s offer.
Officials are also considering a plan to make the sewer district smaller than originally planned. It remains unclear what the new boundaries would be.
In the meantime, what’s left of the old hotel lies wrapped with tarps.
Feehan hopes the sewer system becomes a reality because that would allow him to build a much larger hotel on the property.
Feehan says he must keep the footprint of the structure intact because if the sewer plan does not go through then his other option is to rebuild it the same size as before.
Code issues, he said, may prohibit him from rebuilding if he completely clears the site and leaves it empty for a period of time.