Huntington Delays Approval of Usdan "Glam" Campsites
By Chris O’Neill
During a hearing on Thursday, April 7, 2022, the Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals postponed a decision on whether to approve a plan by the Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts to allow overnight camping for 25 tents (up to a possible 70 in the future) on its 140 acre location located in Wheatley Heights.
The hearing was postponed for three weeks to give Usdan time to respond to complaints. Usdan hopes to use income from the ‘glampsites’ to fund scholarships for middle and lower income students. ‘Glamping’ refers to ‘glamorous camping’ – and thus with all amenities.
Local opposition has arisen against the idea. Forty people spoke out at the hearing citing fears that overnight campers might be noisy, could drink too much, cause fires, and generally hurt nearby property values.
Michael Rosedale, spokesperson for the neighborhood opposition, said he supports the camp but wants it to find another way to raise money for scholarships.
Phillip Foundos of the Melville Fire Department said that he had “serious safety concerns for campers, residents and fire personnel” in case of the need to access the tents, which would be on wooded property.
“Finding a patient during a day would be difficult,” he said. “Finding someone at night would be next to impossible.”
Following the hearing, Usdan issued a statement: “The safety and security of our community, as well as the preservation of this land, are our top priorities. Usdan follows all building and fire safety codes.”
Usdan also stated on its website that anyone wishing to use the campsites would be vetted and would need to agree to general rules and regulations as well as to a code of conduct.
Usdan was founded in 1968 with a focus on art, dance and theater and continues to expand its arts curriculum. The camp was named after Suzanne Usdan, the daughter of philanthropist Samuel Lemberg.