BELMAR, NJ — The youth day camp at an 11th Avenue yeshiva that was closed by court order on July 21 was found last month in violation of Belmar’s fire code.
After its annual fire inspection on June 28, the Mesivta Keser Torah-Jersey facility at 503- 505 11th Avenue was cited for several violations, including a disabled fire alarm system, lack of fire extinguishers, no emergency and evacuation plans, and for missing fireproof ceiling tiles, according to Belmar Fire Marshal Ryan Dullea.
The fire inspection report was included in the complaint filed by the Monmouth County Health Department that resulted in a temporary restraining order against Mesivta Keser Torah-Jersey, Rabbi Dovid Heinemann and Camp Emzee Inc., preventing them from continuing to operate the unlicensed youth day camp, according to county officials.
The facility has not received the proper certificate of approval as required by New Jersey state law to operate a youth day camp, according to the complaint submitted by Trenton-based attorneys Andrew Bayer and David A. Clark on behalf of the health department.
In addressing the fire code violations, the county said the failure by the operators to maintain a fire alarm system and to have fire extinguishes “directly places the health and safety of the youth campers at risk.”
Phone calls to the Rabbi Heinemann’s office were not returned and there was no answer on July 24 at the door of either at 503 or 505 11th Avenue.
The order issued by Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Quinn immediately prohibits the defendants from operating the camp not only at the 11th Avenue property but in any other location within Monmouth County until a final determination is made in the Belmar matter. The next court appearance in Monmouth County's Chancery Division in Freehold has been rescheduled for September 29.
“We are gratified that Judge Quinn acted quickly and decisively on this matter of great concern,” said Freeholder John P. Curley, the health department’s liaison. “We are entrusted with the public’s welfare, and it was imperative that we took swift action on behalf of the young people attending this camp.”
After receiving information from local authorities, the county health department investigated the location and discovered there are approximately 30 campers ranging from second to seventh grade participating at Camp Emzee.
Among the alleged violations under the New Jersey Youth Camp Safety Act, the camp does not employ a camp director with proper state-mandated qualifications and it has no medical program in place under the direction of a state-licensed physician or a dedicated health director. It is also alleged that the camp fails to use swimming pools or beaches that conform to municipal and state regulations, as well as public recreational bathing rules. Instead, campers are repeatedly allowed to swim in a private, residential pool that does not comply with this regulation, officials claim.
Freeholder Curley said that anyone with concerns about any facility or camp is asked to call the Monmouth County Health Department at 732-431-7456. “It is imperative that we ensure the health and safety of our county’s youth so they can enjoy the summer months in a protected environment,” he said.
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