Youth Camp, once nixed, back on planners’ agenda

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 11, 2007

COURTLAND—A youth camp proposed for a 75-acre property on Route 616 near Ivor, withdrawn from consideration because of community concerns in 2003, is up for deliberation again by Southampton’s Planning Commission.

On Thursday planners will consider a conditional use permit application by Richard Warren for Camp Oasis, envisioned as a residential and day camp for children eight to 14 years old. It could open as early as June 2009 if it receives county approval.

Warren, who grew up in Southampton County, maintains a residence in Ivor and for 10 years has operated Naomi Day Camp in Roosevelt, N.Y., with his wife Diane.

According to information submitted to Southampton’s planning department, the mission of the proposed new camp is &uot;to provide a safe environment to enrich the lives of youth&uot; and &uot;to provide opportunity, tools and support for children to dream and achieve their goals in a safe and positive environment.&uot;

Although it would be open all year, the facility would offer a full-time camp during the months of June, July and August. During the school year, the owners would try to market the facility as a location for after-school programs, weekend enrichment programs, community activities and private functions, including weddings, family reunions and retreats.

The summer camp would serve both traditional residential campers and day campers, providing &uot;opportunities to stimulate their minds, build healthy bodies and challenge their adventurous souls, while nestled away from life’s pressures.&uot;

The facility would feature two residential dormitories with sleeping accommodations for 16 to 20 campers. For recreation, there would be two ponds, a pavilion for sheltered outdoor activities, hiking and biking trails, volleyball and tennis courts, baseball and soccer fields, climbing challenges, horse stables, a barnyard petting farm and other activities.

Day campers would participate from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and lights-out for residential campers would be at 9 p.m.

The applicants expect a ratio of eight or 10 campers per counselor. They plan to hire teachers and college students to serve as counselors and area high school students as junior counselors.

The Warrens project total employment for the 2009 season to be around 16, including counselors, directors, health and safety workers and maintenance crew.

During the off-season, the camp would host weekend enrichment programs for youth, with topics ranging from college prep to values to peer pressure to career planning and job skills, according to the application.

An after-school program would have the camp working with Southampton County schools to provide a place where buses could take students for three hours or so of supervised activities and mentoring at the end of the regular school day.

The Warrens held a community meeting May 1 to present their plans to potentially affected neighbors and have set up their site plan with most camp facilities in the northeastern portion of the property in order to have the least impact on adjoining property owners, the proposal states.

Discussion during public hearings in April and May of 2003 concentrated largely on the camp’s potential off-season uses. After questions from neighbors were raised regarding the layout of the facility, off-season activities and the fear of noise impacts on nearby residents, the Warrens asked that their request be taken off the table temporarily to give them more time to meet with neighbors and attempt to address their concerns.