Following Saugerties gas station leak that contaminated wells, neighboring hotels seek village water

A worker for Albany-based American Petroleum, hired to clean up the gas spill at the Route 32 Sunoco service station, fills a pit that was dug to trace the spill. (photo by Robert Ford)

It comes down to money. It’s money that’s keeping the owners of the Comfort Inn from finding a permanent solution to supply their guests with drinking water.

Earlier this summer, the state Department of Environmental Conservation learned of a gas leak of significance at the Sunoco service station on Route 32. The spill had migrated underground to the Comfort Inn across the street and polluted its well.

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The owner of the neighboring Howard Johnson Motel, which has a fire hydrant served by the village of Saugerties water department via a line running from Route 212, let the village attach a hose running water from the hydrant to the Comfort Inn.

However, according to Michael Hopf, superintendent of the village water department, that’s only a temporary solution to the Comfort Inn’s water woes. A more permanent solution is needed.

A meeting was recently held, Hopf said, that included the DEC, the owner of the Comfort Inn, the owner of the Sunoco station, and the owner of the soon-to-be built Holiday Inn Express, who also owns the Howard Johnson Motel. Biten Patel, the owner of the Holiday Inn and the Howard Johnson, is having a water main run from Route 212 to the inn as part of that project.

Everyone agrees that the perfect solution would be if the Comfort Inn and the Sunoco could hook into that line. But the fly in the ointment, according to Hopf, is who will pay for the line and hookups.

When the line was just for the Holiday Inn, Patel would pay the several-hundred-thousand-dollar bill. With both the Comfort Inn, and the Sunoco station hoping to be able to hook into what would be a private line owned by Patel the issue gets a bit more complex. Hopf said no one would agree on who would pay what or how much, and that’s how the meeting ended.

One solution, Hopf said, was for the DEC to have the work done, and then pass the matter over to the state attorney general’s office the matter of who would pay what and collect the money.

Another solution, Hopf said, would be for the town of Saugerties to pay for it, take it over, and form a water district assessing costs to all parties involved. Other businesses or private residences in the area could also hook into the system, which would help defray some of the costs.

All sides continue to talk.

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