By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON June 5, 2001 An old stand-up arcade game sits on its side in an overgrown field. The peeling paint surrounding its broken TV screen and slightly cocked joystick is so faded that the name of the game is indistinguishable.
Stacked in a pile behind a nearby tree are dozens of rusty bed frames, some still bearing the dark scars of a fire 35 years ago.
Theres an old refrigerator whose white exterior has been replaced by little brown flakes. And theres empty cans of lead-based paint, sitting exactly where someone likely threw them days after the old Green Acres Hotel burned to the ground in 1966.
Some bags and bottles of trash are more recent, perhaps a result of trespassers or workers at the business which followed Green Acres: New Horizons, a drug abuse treatment center.
Theres even a pile of sharp glass shards which evidently once formed a gigantic window or series of windows.
This could be one of hundreds of properties across Sullivan County, hearkening back to a time when no official landfills existed and many people simply dumped their garbage out of sight.
But this isnt your ordinary set of overgrown fields and woods.
This is the site of the new Sullivan West High School in Lake Huntington.
And there are piles of such trash all over the place.
Turner Construction Company, which is building the 133,000-square-foot high school on a hill overlooking the lake and Route 52, is under contract with Sullivan West to remove the garbage. The question some school district residents have asked is, will the site be safe when local children move in in 2002?
According to Turner spokesperson Steve Lundgren and SW Superintendent Michael Johndrow, it will be, thanks to strict state regulations and constant public scrutiny.
Were not at all trying to cover anything up, said Johndrow as he and Lundgren walked around the site last week. If anything, well be upgrading the property.
But at least a few others, according to outspoken Fremont Center activist Tony Wayne, arent so sure theres nothing to be concerned about.
To me, its a disastrous place, said Wayne, whose children attend Sullivan West at Delaware Valley in Callicoon. Its going to cost money to clean this up.
A Little History
The 71-acre site basically old foundations in the front, fields in the middle and woods and swamps in the back was first occupied in the early part of the 20th century.
In the 1920s, a hotel called Green Acres was erected by Liberty resident Esterita Blumbergs parents. The popular hotel lasted until a devastating fire in 1966.
A drug rehabilitation group called New Horizons then purchased the property and built a facility for its program. After New Horizons left, most all the remaining structures were torn down by the early 90s.
Lake Huntington native William Boucher then bought the property, donating much of it to the newly merged school district last year.
A good deal of the trash that had collected over the years was not removed, though a fact noted by the firm hired by Sullivan West to conduct the state-mandated environmental assessment of the site.
Coming Friday: A Look at the Official Environmental Assessment