By Patricia Breakey
Delhi News Bureau
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JEFFERSON _ The closed Scotch Valley ski resort and Deer Run condominiums are being purchased by Oorah to be used as a summer camp for Jewish children, but it’s possible skiing may resume at the site.
Eli Mintz, Oorah chief executive officer, said the contracts to purchase the two properties have been signed.
Attorney Kevin Young of Albany said the closing on the property is expected in about 60 days. He said the purchase price was in the $1.2 million range but didn’t want to be specific.
Oorah, which means "Awaken," was founded in 1980 with the goal of awakening Jewish children and their families to their heritage, according to its website.
The organization is based in Lakewood, N.J., and owns and operates the Oorah Boy Zone and Girl Zone Camp on South Gilboa Road in Gilboa.
Mintz said he looked at the Scotch Valley and Deer Run properties about five years ago when he was seeking a location for a children’s summer camp.
He looked at more than 100 locations in the Catskills and the Poconos, he said, before settling on the former Golden Acres Family Resort in Gilboa.
Elisha Lewenstein, Oorah camp director, said the organization wants a second location so they can run a boys camp at one site and a girls camp at the other. Oorah provides one month of camping for girls and one month for boys, but with two camps, the campers can stay for two months.
Mintz said the Deer Run condominiums and the 50,000-square-foot building on the Scotch Valley property are in need of extensive repairs and renovations.
"They have really gone downhill since I looked at them five years ago," he said. "The roofs have been leaking, and that causes extensive damage."
There are 30 single rooms at Scotch Valley and 48 apartments at Deer Run.
Mintz said the only thing that would stop the purchase of the properties is if the septic systems are located in the New York City watershed.
"I know the buildings are located in the watershed," Mintz said. "But we believe the septic systems are out of the watershed and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is a complete hindrance."
He said he is open to the idea of the property being operated as ski resort during the winter if someone with experience can run it as a money-making operation.
"I talked to the Stamford Chamber of Commerce and told them I would be willing to entertain leasing the property during the winter, but it had to be to an experienced operator," Mintz said.
to save resort
In response to the sale, Tighe Lory, of Richmondville, has launched a website and letter-writing campaign to "Save Scotch Valley."
Lory said he was born and raised in Schoharie, and from 1993 to 1998, he was a ski instructor at Scotch Valley.
"I personally saw the positive impact Scotch Valley had on the community providing jobs and promoting tourism," Lory said Wednesday. "It was a boon for both Delaware and Schoharie counties."
Lory’s website, www.savescotchvalley.com, was launched during the last week in August. He said more than 340 people signed a petition, and more than 200 letters were sent to government officials supporting the reopening of Scotch Valley.
"It would be awful if we lost a unique property like Scotch Valley," Lory said. "It was the ‘Cheers’ of ski resorts where "everyone knew your name."
Scotch Valley closed in 1999. The ski slope was opened in the 1960s, and in the 1980s, the condominiums were added to make it a more exclusive resort, Lory said.
Mintz said Oorah is purchasing the property from Chabad, a Jewish charity that gained ownership through a bequest.
Renovations will begin after the closing, he said, but he did not know when the camp will begin operation.
Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.