Shandaken board votes to move Phoenicia sewer project forward

Councilmember Doris Bartlett, who presented a resolution in support of keeping the Phoenicia Elementary School open. Photo by Rusty Mae Moore.

Board votes to move Phoenicia sewer project forward

Supervisor Rob Stanley reported that the DEP has approved the new plan for the Phoenicia wastewater treatment system presented to the Town Board by Lamont Engineers on October 20, 2011. (See

Under the terms of the contract between the Catskill Watershed Corporation and Shandaken, the town had to pass a resolution within 60 days of the DEP approval of the engineer’s preferred project indicating the town’s intention to move forward with it. The Town Board voted 3 to 2 in favor of moving the project to build a proposed 130,000 gallon-a-day membrane bioreactor wastewater treatment plant and collection system forward into the pre-construction/design phase. Councilmembers Vincent Bernstein and Alfie Higley voted against moving the project forward.

The discussion before the vote focused on the actual need for the system, the fact that not enough money to cover all the business and residential users in the proposed system is available, the issue of whether people in the sewer district but not connected to the proposed collection system could vote in the upcoming referendum on the system, and whether the DEP or the town had the power to determine who would connect to the system.


The four volumes of documents on the proposed system prepared by Lamont Engineering is available at the Town Hall. A CWC representative at the meeting stated that “85 percent of the properties in Phoenicia are unable to support an appropriate septic system” as is presented in the Lamont Engineering studies. (see the Town of Shandaken website for more details on Lamont's reports).

Stanley said that efforts are ongoing to find additional funding for building the complete system covering the entire sewer district. The planned treatment system in the Lamont report is capable of handling the entire sewer district, although the collection system in the report does not include the entire district because the currently available block grant funds set aside by New York City ($15.8 million) do not cover the full cost of the system.

Hamlet of Shandaken Community Septic System

The hamlet of Shandaken is in need of a community septic system to handle the portion of the community’s wastewater which cannot be treated in private septic systems. The owner of a 30-acre piece of land in the hamlet offered to sell it to the town. Investigation showed that only 1 acre was above the floodplain, which would be too small to handle more than one-third of the hamlet’s excess wastewater in a leachfield.

The decision of the Town Board was to defer a decision on purchasing this property until it could be determined if there was a better property available which could handle 100 percent of the excess untreated wastewater in one facility. Tim Cox of the Catskill Watershed Corporation, which oversees the waste systems in many Catskills communities, commented that “the availability of this property is ahead of the program [for the hamlet of] Shandaken…there is no funding yet for a study.”

Support for the Phoenicia Elementary School

By unanimous vote, the town board passed a resolution opposing a proposed plan to close the Phoenicia Elementary School.

The resolution mentioned that the school supports the education of the town’s youth, serves as a meeting hall and community center “offering athletic, educational and social programs,” and may soon be designated an “emergency response shelter.” The resolution further stated that the school “serves as an economic engine during the school year for many businesses located in the hamlet of Phoenicia.”

Hearing Date Set For Farmstand Law

A public hearing on the proposed “Farmstand Law” will be held at the Shandaken Town Hall at 6:00 PM on Thursday, Feb. 23. (For a copy of the proposed law, see embedded document below).

NEW Roadside Stand Law 2-1-12

The issue of regulations concerning farm stands along Route 28 has been a hot topic in Shandaken for several years. For background on the issue, see several articles in the Watershed Post, including the following: Upcoming battle in the Shandaken farmstand wars.

Rob Stanley said that the draft law was developed by the Town Board and referred to the Shandaken and Ulster County Planning Departments for review. These bodies made no recommendations.

Resolution to encourage Ulster County to rebuild Phoenicia bridge

The Bridge Street bridge in Phoenicia has been closed since late August 2011 because of damage from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee. Ulster County is responsible for the bridge, and is currently looking into options including resetting and re-decking, raising the current bridge and redesigning the bridge to allow more water flow.

The town board passed a unanimous resolution asking “the Ulster County DPW to... keep local elected officials apprised of their progress and if proposing a redesign, allow input from both the elected officials and local stakeholders from within the community before proceeding."

The Town Board made it clear that the economy of Phoenicia depends on the resolution of the bridge issue before the 2012 summer recreation and tourism season.

Request for volunteers to participate in ambulance cardio data links

Shandaken Ambulance Service Captain Richard Muellerleile reported that there has been difficulty in communication between cardiac monitors in mobile units and cardiac units located in hospitals. He asked for people with Verizon network extender equipment to call him if they are willing to volunteer the use of their systems by ambulance crews when needed in cases of emergency.

Since the town meeting, many local residents have stepped forward to offer help with this venture.

Scenic byway meeting scheduled

Stanley said that local elected officials would be meeting during the week of February 6 to address concerns related to the Scenic Byway proposal. “Some municipalities in the [Scenic Byway] Collaborative would like to have some language addressed to better clarify what is to be expected of them and to ensure that there is no diminishment of each municipality’s right to home rule,” he said. (See The route to a scenic byway).

The Town of Shandaken is scheduled to hold its second hearing on the Scenic Byway proposal at 6pm on Monday, Feb. 13. Town officials welcome public comments on the proposal.

Presentation on Healthy Places Project

David Gilmour of Gilmour Planning (New Paltz) made a PowerPoint presentation on the Phoenicia Complete Streets Initiative. Gilmour will meet with the Shandaken Planning Board in the future to discuss means for integrating complete streets concepts into town planning efforts.