Ed Day, Rockland County Executive

March 27, 2017

Contact: Jane Lerner, Director of Strategic Communications
Office of the County Executive (845) 638-5645

Compliance Achieved at Chestnut Ridge School After Agreement Reached; No Dorms until Village Approval

NEW CITY, NY – Rockland County Executive Ed Day has announced that the Rockland Department of Health has reached an agreement that protects the safety of children attending an elementary school on the grounds of the former Edwin Gould property in Chestnut Ridge.

In a separate but related matter, the Rockland Department of Health has informed owners of the property that the county will not issue a rooming house permit for two dormitories on the site until the village of Chestnut Ridge approves the plan.

"Our goal has always been to get compliance," the County Executive said. "We worked collaboratively with the school to reach an agreement that protects the safety of children while also upholding the requirements of the Rockland County Sanitary Code. We cannot issue rooming house permits until all the proper steps have been taken."

A school for girls, Bais Yaakov, is operating at the premises, which had been vacant since the Edwin Gould Academy, an alternative school for troubled New York City youths, closed in 2005. Many of the buildings on the 145-acre site date back to 1920s or earlier.

Bais Yakov opened without getting all the necessary approvals and inspections, the County Executive noted.

The county took action to make sure the proper procedures were followed.

In addition, the county discovered two dormitories that appeared to be ready for occupancy. The dorms cannot be occupied until a rooming house permit is issued.

Asbestos was discovered in a location in a school building adjacent to a classroom occupied by young children. The school has since remediated the asbestos in that location so it is no longer poses a danger.

A stipulation has been signed by both Rockland Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Schnabel Ruppert and Heshy Censor, property coordinator for Chestnut Ridge Venture, owner of 681 Chestnut Ridge Road.

Under the terms of the stipulation Chestnut Ridge Venture paid $1,000 and will:

• Hire a licensed, certified inspector to inspect Buildings 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 19 and give the Department of Health reports within four weeks.
• If an asbestos hazard is identified in any of those buildings, a licensed, certified asbestos remediation professional will be hired to abate the hazard by a mutually agreed upon date.
• Allow the Department of Health to post as uninhabitable Buildings 3, 12a, 12b, 17a, 17b and 17c.
• Other buildings will remain vacant and posted as uninhabitable, including Buildings 1, 4, 5, 6, 12, 16 and 18.
• The school will have to notify the Department of Health before occupying any of the posted buildings, among other steps.

The county will check the property to make sure terms of the stipulation are being followed.

"Everyone has to follow the law," the County Executive said. "Equal treatment for all. Special preference for none."