Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The signs of neglect are everywhere, run down living quarters, broken recreational equipment and that's what you can see. Residents in Monticello say they've been able to smell a problem at this summer camp for years: an overpowering stench of raw sewage.
For the last 5 years, the 141-acre facility has been run as Camp Bias Esther and accommodated 400 Hasidic boys from Brooklyn.
However, yesterday, officials in the town of Thompson shut down the camp prior to its opening for the summer.
Besides the sewage problem, inspectors found dangerous electrical work - wires designed only for indoor use were strung outside.
At one time the property was a hotel known as the Esther Manor, it's where Neil Sedaka got his start and married the owner's daughter. It was part of the Borscht Belt, the area in the Catskills where many Jewish families vacationed. However, in recent years it fell into disrepair like many other resorts.
Wednesday, security guards manned the entrance to the camp. Town officials say there's an ongoing dispute between the property owners and the group that leases the site. Either way, the camp will remain closed until a long list of repairs is complete.
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