Skver Given Till Tomorrow 5 PM to Leave Homowack


homowackThe Times Herald-Record reports: Judge Burton Ledina has ordered Skver to leave the former Homowack Lodge by 5 p.m. tomorrow – a move that is expected to end the camp’s near month-long standoff with state and emergency officials who have called the resort a potential deathtrap. Ledina granted the temporary restraining order, saying that Congregation Bais Trana was operating a girls’ camp without a permit and there was “ample proof” of code violations and dangers.

Ledina said he wants children moved out quickly for safety reasons. By not ordering the group out, he said, he would be “flying in the face of state laws and regulations.”

The attorney general’s office brought the Supreme Court action on behalf of the state Department of Health, after the congregation defied a July 27 DOH commissioner’s order to vacate.

The Congregation was denied a permit on June 30 but occupied the buildings anyway and later declined to leave in spite of warnings from state, county and town emergency officials that the place is a serious fire hazard.

The group’s attorney, Perry Meltzer, asked the judge to allow the group two more weeks.

“They have to be returned to their parents,” Meltzer said. “They need a reasonable opportunity to contact each one of their parents.”

He estimated about 150 to 160 people were still in two buildings, including about 100 to 120 children.

During the three-hour hearing in Monticello, Meltzer attempted to prove existing conditions presented no danger.

Contractors who worked on the sprinkler and fire alarm systems testified the systems were working in the two buildings where the girls were staying. A mold-remediation contractor indicated that mold in these two buildings was under control. The operators have carted out several truck loads of garbage and debris from the basement.

On Monday, health officials and Mamakating’s code enforcement officer walked through several areas again. Assistant Attorney General Nick Garin played an 18-minute video of the tour during the hearing. The video revealed numerous violations, including evidence of mold, missing ceiling tiles, exposed wiring, leaks and water running over electrical boxes. It also showed that several rooms and a mikvah – a ritual bath – were filthy.

“It isn’t fit for human habitation,” Garin said.

Garin served one of the camp operators, Malka Neustadt, with Ledina’s order while she was sitting in the courtroom.

{Times Herald-Record/ Newscenter}