Sect evacuates former resort in Spring Glen

Hasidic group leaves 1 hour before deadline

Times Herald-Record, New York/August 10, 2009

Spring Glen - It was just after 4 p.m. Sunday when the school buses pulled out of the driveway and onto Phillipsport Road. A Penske moving truck pulled up alongside one of the main buildings, its empty trailer ready to be filled with belongings.

Moving day had finally come to the former Homowack Lodge, as the Hasidic sect occupying the resort vacated before the 5 p.m. deadline imposed by a judge last week.

It's the end of a month-long standoff between Congregation Bais Trana, who were operating a girls' camp at the site, and state, local and emergency officials, who condemned the site as a safety hazard.

One man from Brooklyn, who gave his name as Y Cohen, still questioned why the state forced out the congregation.

"The place is not so bad," said Cohen, who spent weekends at the camp with his four children, who had stayed there all summer. "It's a huge place. I'm not a health expert, but I feel safe.

"The prosecutor, the (fire) chief, the local people ... they don't want to have us here."

Emergency personnel have described the resort, now called Machne Bnos Square, a serious fire hazard and cited the congregation for numerous code and health and safety violations. The state Department of Health ordered the group to vacate the grounds on July 27, but they refused.

Last Tuesday, Judge Burton Ledina ordered the congregation to leave by 5 p.m. Thursday. On Thursday, Ledina pushed the deadline back to 5 p.m. Sunday.

"I hope during the year they fix it up so it's OK next summer," Cohen said.

As campers continued to load their belongings, Ava and Barry Lynn of Spring Glen pulled their car over on Phillipsport Road. They worked at the Homowack back in the 1970s and spoke fondly of its past. As he looked at the dilapidated buildings and grounds, Barry Lynn shook his head.

"It's terrible how this place has gotten," he said.

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