Sullivan County, NY – A Wawarsing, Orthodox Jewish girls’ day camp is being hauled into court on a certificate of occupancy violation following the discovery of 30 to 50 unsupervised children in the camp’s gymnasium by a code enforcement officer on July 14. The gym did not qualify for a proper certificate of occupancy because it has no attic ventilation or a sprinkler system.
Camp Chaviva, located on Ulster Heights Road, was issued a summons by Code Enforcement Officer Daniel Pollan, who says he found and ushered the children out of the building, and told the camp owners to appear in court this Friday, according to a report by Record Online (http://bit.ly/2aOI8pb).
“They are allowing children into this building without supervision when they know there’s no CO issued for the building,” Pollan exclaimed. “To me, that’s unsafe for children.”
A longstanding clash between Pollan and Duane Roe, the camp’s contractor, had previously resulted in Pollan issuing a stop work order on the construction of two bunkhouses and delaying authorizations for the gym. Roe had begun construction on the bunkhouses before receiving permission from the planning board. Though the plans for the bunkhouses were later approved, Pollan says Roe continued constructing the edifices while the stop work order was still in effect.
In May 2015, a building permit was issued for the gym by a different building inspector who granted the gym an exemption for not having a sprinkler system because it was supposed to be used “exclusively” for sports.
However, the camp also placed a stage and classrooms in the gym building, rendering it a multi-use facility requiring a sprinkler system under state law. Roe also failed to install an attic ventilation shaft during the construction of the gym, adding to Pollan’s stance that a CO is not warranted for the gym and that the premises are unsafe. The bunkhouses also have a pending certificate of occupancy.
Chaviva Properties’ owner, Aaron Munk, said, “The problem is, Ellenville doesn’t like development. That’s the bottom line.” He added that the camp was being targeted over “nonsense stuff.”
“We’ve always proven ourselves to be on the up and up,” Munk said, noting Camp Chaviva is the sole Orthodox camp in the area with accreditation from the American Camp Association. He indicated he is hoping for a resolution with the town following Friday’s court appearance.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the gym was not being used, but Pollan said the idea of children inside buildings without proper COs worries him, yet there’s only so much he can do. “To me, it’s an open and shut situation, but I’m not a judge, I’m not an attorney. I have no expertise in law,” Pollan said. “So I’m waiting to see what happens in court.”