County Lawmakers Discuss Camp Herrlich Proposed New Contract

By Neal Rentz

A proposal to extend Camp Herrlich’s contract with Putnam County for decades and allow the camp to reduce its lease payments to pay the mortgage on the new building it is seeking to construct was addressed at the May 18 at the Putnam County Legislature’s Physical Services Committee meeting.

Robert Gentile, executive director of the camp that is located at 101 Deacon Smith Hill Rd. in Patterson, told the committee last week he had received a loan for a local bank to construct the new building.

In an April letter to the committee Gentile noted that his 156 acre camp and the county entered into a lease arrangement in 2006. If the lease is terminated by either the camp or the county, the land would revert back to the county, he stated. If the county in the future wanted to sell or lease the property it would first have to offer the land to New York City for $1 to continue to operate the recreation and education, which includes children from the city for one of its summer camp programs, he wrote.

The camp has continued to maintain and upgrade its facility at a cost of $85,000 annually, Gentile wrote.

To be able to construct the new building, Gentile is asking the county to extend its lease by 40 years and allow the camp to reduce its payments to the county.

If the county agreed to the camp’s proposal it would own the 4,000 square foot building at no cost, even though the structure will cost the camp $800,000 to build, Gentile stated.

Though the camp takes youngsters from the city each summer, it also provides its day camp program to 275 Putnam youths, Gentile sated. During the academic year before and after school programs are provided at the property, as well as a BOCES Outdoor Education program, he told the committee last week.

The camp’s lease with the county, which was extended in 2012, is scheduled to expire in 2017 and Gentile is seeking to extend it by four decades and reduce the lease payments to pay the mortgage on the new building.

Committee member Barbara Scuccimarra said she thought an additional 40 years for the camp’s lease with the county was too long. Gentile responded by saying having a 40-year lease would allow his camp to create a master plan for the facility.

The committee held an executive session on the camp’s request in the middle of last week’s meeting and committee Chairman Carl Albano told Gentile more talks in another executive session would be needed by the committee.