By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE February 8, 2002 Al Zecchine wants to build something the residents of Jeffersonville can be proud of.
Zecchine represents the corporation which purchased the former Lake Jeff Hotel in 1999, and after years of waiting to get work off the ground, hes eager to see the property rehabilitated.
A native of New York City, Zecchine now owns a home in Roscoe and remembers summers spent in Sullivan County as a youngster.
Though he doesnt recall the Lake Jeff Hotel factoring in his youthful holidays, as a Roscoe homeowner hes come in contact with the hotels lore.
And he thinks hes found somewhat of a diamond in the rough in Jeffersonville.
Our original concept was to revitalize the property and bring it back to its past glory, Zecchine said. But unfortunately because of the state of disrepair the building is in, its impossible financially to do that.
The buildings proximity to Route 52 makes it a hazard with the passing trucks and cars that rarely follow the posted 35 MPH speed limit, he added.
So that means the famed hotel, a landmark for residents on the western side of Sullivan County, will be torn down sometime this year.
Unfortunately, thats our only viable choice, Zecchine noted.
But that doesnt mean the village will be losing out a new building is expected to come up in its stead, something Zecchine hopes will make the county and village residents proud.
There wont be any strip mall going up there, no McDonalds or Taco Bell, he said. We are gearing this project to local residents. . . . It will be family-oriented and value-oriented.
Zecchine couldnt comment on what exactly will be built on the shores of Lake Jeff. He said those plans havent yet been finalized by his company.
But, he added, they hope to rehabilitate the lake and bring something positive to Jeffersonville.
The company will be giving back to the Jeffersonville community, Zecchine said, possibly by sponsoring sports teams or getting involved in municipal projects.
And they are eager to work with local officials to get this project off the ground.
Currently, the company is in the process of accepting bids for the demolition and for the rebuild from county contractors.
Our aim is not to go out of the county for anything Ive seen that all too often, unfortunately, Zecchine noted.
Sitework is expected to start in September, and building would proceed through the winter. The project should be done by April or May 2003, in time for a springtime grand opening.
Once weve finalized what it is we want to build and how we want it to look, we will approach the local planning board and take direction from them, Zecchine said.
The village is eager to work with Zecchines company, said Mayor Susan Hemmer.
We think its great, Hemmer said. Anytime a new business comes to town its great.