Judge ready to limit events at camp

A court order expected to be finalized today will restrict night activities at Oorah Catskill Retrea

A court order expected to be finalized today will restrict night activities at Oorah Catskill Retreat that have prompted a $10 million lawsuit by neighbors of the summer camp.

The pending order by state Supreme Court Judge Eugene P. Devine will not stop the summer camp for New York City-area Jewish children from its scheduled reopening this weekend, according to Barbara Kraus, one of nine neighbors suing camp operators.

“It will seriously limit the activities,” Kraus said Thursday. The neighbors are pleased with the proposed order, she said.

The action is in response to a request for an injunction to block the camp from opening if it did not stop late-night use of sports field lighting, making noise and engaging in other activities the neighbors claim have disrupted their lives since the camp expanded under new ownership about two years ago.

The lawsuit, alleging reduced property values and other damages, will continue, according to Kraus.

“But this will get us through the summer,” she said.

“If they comply, this [order] will enable us to live here with some kind of peace,” Kraus said.

Neither Devine nor the camp’s attorney could be reached Thursday, but after a June 12 conference with attorneys, the judge gave both sides about 10 days to come up with an agreement or he said he would make a ruling.

Kraus said the neighbors’ attorney, Peter Henner, and the camp’s lawyer, Kevin Young, visited the camp and several nearby properties along Parliman Road last Sunday to assess the effect of the 97 high-intensity lights installed atop 60-foot poles last summer.

Devine is expected to rule because the attorneys could not agree on how late the noise and lights could continue into the night.

Young said earlier this month that the fields gave camp staff or older children opportunities to use them after younger children went to bed at 11 p.m.

Kraus and other neighbors say the fields, lights and loudspeaker noise have continued into the wee hours of the morning.

According to a draft of his preliminary order provided to the plaintiffs, Devine indicated he expected to sign an order today restricting the lights and noise, pending a proposed bond from plaintiffs for any monetary impacts on camp revenue.

As proposed, the court’s order would ban use of the sports lighting system after 10 p.m.

It would also limit use of the public address sound system to 30-second announcements, with no more than two announcements in an hour and no more than 10 announcements per day. Except for emergencies, the sound system also would be banned from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., with no music between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Music also would be required to be played at a volume only audible within camp boundaries.

A go-cart track would also not be allowed to run between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m.

According to camp neighbor David Lewis, whose home and 10-acre property abut the camp, the motorized go-carts have been used well past midnight.

“They had this track going at 2 and 3 in the morning,” said Kraus, who lives about a quarter-mile down Parliman Road. “We could hear them through the closed windows,” she said.

Henner was on vacation and could not be reached Thursday but attorney Frederick Altman said he was assisting with submission of the bond paperwork due today.

Altman declined Thursday to comment specifically on the proposed order.

“The judge has given some preliminary indications he intends to sign it . . . but until it’s final, I’d rather not speculate on it.

“It’s preferable in some cases for parties to work things out, but if they can’t that’s what judges are for.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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