Trustee Vilair Fonvil sues Spring Valley to stop alleged bad camp deal; Judge Berliner issues emergency “stop”

BY CAROL MCILMURRAY

Front Entrance to Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Purpose Center, where Spring Valley Board voted to pay over $1,500 per child for a month long day camp funded by the taxpayers.
Front Entrance to Martin Luther King Jr. Multi-Purpose Center, where Spring Valley Board voted to pay over $1,500 per child for a month long day camp funded by the taxpayers.

NEW CITY- Spring Valley Trustee Vilair Fonvil successfully filed an emergency order Thursday to stop the village of Spring Valley from paying $114,280 to the Martin Luther King Jr. center in an alleged bad day camp deal set to rip off taxpayers.

The emergency stop payment order was issued to Spring Valley Mayor Delhomme, three remaining board members and Town of Ramapo by NY Supreme Court Judge Hon. Richard M. Berliner, pending the outcome of the lawsuit filed by Fonvil, the only dissenting Spring Valley trustee, awaited judgment.

The first part of Fonvil’s complaint is that the five member Spring Valley Board voted down by a 2-3 margin a $500-per-child deal from the Town of Ramapo for a day camp that provided child care services with outdoor space, playgrounds and a pool for 28 days.  Fonvil claims the board instead voted 3-1-1 in favor of a $1,500-per-child day camp deal at the Spring Valley MLK Jr. Center that offers no playgrounds or pool for children to play. The fees are to be paid by the Village of Spring Valley treasury.

The MLK deal also charged close to $300 for the child to stay an additional two hours per day, while the Town of Ramapo deal offered the same service for only $150 dollars extra per child. It was agreed by both sides that if a parent can afford it they would pay a $360 fee for summer camp, a fee that otherwise would be covered by the village.

Judge Berliner stated he was “concerned [about] the cost to the village, to the taxpayers,” and went on to state, “I don’t understand the whole resolution.”

Fonvil’s lead counselor Tony Gerard joked the only good part of the deal was the $10 flat fee for each child to have ice cream for the entire span of the camp.

Fonvil exclusively told the RCT that the Town of  “Ramapo’s offer of  $500 dollars per kid was clearly a better program….I thought it was a bad vote and [the Spring Valley Board of Trustees] never [should have] gone with higher bidder; it’s unfair for the taxpayer to throw away money like this for a lesser program.”

Fonvil’s second counselor Larry Weissmann stated in the courtroom, “This is fraud, it’s clear.”

Another part of the complaint is that Stephen White, husband of sitting board member Emilia White, is on the financial committee at the MLK Jr. Center. Fonvil complained that Emilia White should have recused herself from the vote.

[Correction– this article originally stated that Stephen White submitted the MLK Center’s bid. That is not accurate, he simply is a member of their financial committee].

Compounding matters in the complaint is Fonvil’s claim that the Board of Trustees does not compile minutes of their meetings, which is in violation of New York State law.

When Special Counsel for Spring Valley Alak Shah could not produce the copy of the resolution, Judge Berliner stated, “I find it disturbing that you did not bring a copy of the resolution with you.” Judge Berliner then requested without success to have the resolution immediately faxed to his office.

The stop payment order was issued by Berliner and the matter was sent over to Hon. Victor J. Alfieri’s Supreme Courtroom to be heard next Friday, July 10.