Koinonia Mold FAQs

Koinonia’s buildings were closed to overnight guests in August 2018 upon the discovery of extensive and potentially dangerous mold conditions. On September 15, 2018, a special meeting of the Martin Luther Camp Corporation was held. The purpose of the meeting, among other things, was to discuss issues related to the discoveries and future of Koinonia. The unapproved minutes of the special meeting will be available on our website by October 12, 2018.

When did the mold problems begin? It is unknown as to the exact time frame when the mold began. However, remediation has occurred in the past. For example, the Conference Center was heat-treated over ten years ago and dehumidifiers have been in continuous use. Caritas, a residence, was closed in 2015 due to mold that caused the family living there to become ill. It remains closed.

What was the response to guest concerns?

At its July 2018 Board meeting the Executive Director reported that a professional would do an inspection. Subsequently, a certified and licensed NYS inspector was hired to do a full inspection of the Camp.

What did the mold inspector conclude?

Seven buildings were deemed hazardous to human health. In some places mold was 50-100 times above acceptable levels.

What did the inspector recommend?

The inspector recommended that seven buildings be remediated - the Executive Director's residence, the administration and staff house, the Conference Center, the Caritas House, the two-family, the lakeside retreat, and the five-sided.

What does it mean to "remediate"?

Remediation means that a NYS certified company removes and disposes the mold, including items such as carpets, mattresses and furniture that cannot be cleaned.

Must everything be disposed?

No. Metal furniture and nonporous fixtures can be cleaned and reused. The crosses and artwork will be cleaned and stored in a safe place off-site. Valuable items such as Koinonia’s collection of quilts can be cleaned by a specialty company.

When and why was Koinonia closed? Who made the decision to close?

The camp was closed after the inspector reported the presence of high levels of mold. Subsequently, a written report from the inspector was given to the Executive Director on August 15, 2018. The Executive Director first consulted an attorney, Koinonia’s insurance company and the Acting President of the Board. The mold posed a serious health threat that could cause severe illness to susceptible individuals. The possibility of guests being injured was high. The risks of staying open could have exposed Koinonia to a lawsuit.

Have any lawsuits been filed because of the mold?

No lawsuit has been filed against Koinonia due to the mold or for any other reason.

What steps were taken after Koinonia was closed?

Guests with reservations were contacted and deposits refunded. A public notice was put on the Koinonia website. The Board and Corporation members were notified. The Koinonia insurance company was contacted and discussions continue. Qualified and certified remediation contractors, independent of the inspector, were asked to submit bids. The soonest possible date (September 15, 2018; a 30-day notice is constitutionally required) for a special meeting of the Corporation members was announced.

What occurred at the September 15 Corporation meeting related to the mold and the closing of the Koinonia?

John Evans, mold inspector, gave an oral report and answered questions; the minutes of the Corporation meeting will be available by October 12, 2018. A packet containing the full mold inspection report and bids for remediation were given to corporation members. A resolution was adopted that directed the Staff and Board to research the future of Koinonia’s ministry and to examine the possibility of moving forward with plans to reopen.

What is the estimated cost to remediate the seven buildings?

The estimated cost is nearly $1.7 million. This amount does not include finish work and refurbishments.

After remediation is completed, will mold occur in the future?

After remediation, the inspector must certify that all mold has been removed. The firm expectation is that it will not reoccur, assuming that the Camp has followed professional recommendations. Conference Center recommendations will likely include sealing the cement pad, installing gutters and possibly French drains to carry water away from the pad, and re-engineering the heating and ventilation systems. Recommendations such as these will be additional costs and should be done when the remediation is completed.

Will the Koinonia's insurance cover the cost of remediation?

As of October 9, 2018, Koinonia’s insurance adjusters are investigating the possibility of coverage for underlying conditions

What can Corporate members and friends do to help Koinonia reopen?

Corporate members and friends can keep Koinonia in their prayers. Because the Martin Luther Camp Corporation constitution requires the Corporation members to approve financial spending that is 5% above the current operating budget (5% = $30,000), the Corporation will need to meet again before remediation can begin. In addition, any borrowing that encumbers the property requires a two-thirds approval by the Corporation members at a regularly called meeting. When a financial and ministry plan is in place for reopening, Corporate members and friends will be asked to help in every way possible.

What can the Board do to help Koinonia reopen? Members of the Board can keep Koinonia in their prayers. Directors and Board members are helping with communication, with the development of a financial and ministry plan, and assisting where possible.

What can the Staff do to help Koinonia reopen?

Members of the Staff can keep Koinonia in their prayers. The Staff has the lead responsibility for maintaining Koinonia and keeping it safe. In addition, the Staff is responsible for numerous tasks: financial reports and planning that include an audit (expected by the third week of October 2018), recommendations for borrowing necessary funds, and a "Remediation and Reopening" budget. The Staff is also responsible for a fundraising plan, the evaluation of remediation bids and the selection of a remediation contractor, the development of future programs and bookings and continuing with the Lake Management plan. All this assumes that the Corporation will not decide to close the ministry permanently.

Who is on Staff now that Koinonia is closed?

Paid Staff includes three individuals only. Joanne Knudson is the Executive Director and is responsible for overall administration. Richard Pratti (Director of Operations) is responsible for assisting Joanne as needed, for maintenance and safety, dealing with the insurance company and for management of the remediation contractor. Jennifer Ruiz (Bookkeeper) is responsible for bookkeeping and executing financial reports.

How can volunteers help?

Volunteers are highly valued and needed! Volunteers are always asked to check first with the Executive Director or Director of Operations before or when entering Koinonia. Currently, due to the mold conditions and NYS regulations, volunteers cannot be used for remediation. When the NYS certified inspector has cleared the Koinonia of mold, volunteers will be welcomed and encouraged to help. Meanwhile, volunteers are asked to contact the office with offers of help or to wait until a call goes out for help.

Can I visit Koinonia?

Koinonia is open for outdoor worship services, hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Please contact the office in advance for a day pass and more information.

Is the Common Ground Dinner canceled?

No. The Executive Director is looking for an alternate site to hold the dinner. The date, time and location will be announced on October 12, 2018.

Are reservations being taken for lodging and retreats?

Yes. However, the timeline for reopening is not yet known. We are accepting reservations for May 2019 and beyond. Please call 845-557-8335 or email register@koinoniany.org to make your reservation.

What is the future for Koinonia's ministry?

Koinonia's mission continues to be to witness to God's love in Jesus Christ. The ministry of this mission is meant to provide places and programs where people may experience this love. How this ministry has been carried out has changed from time to time and may change again. The mission and ministry of Koinonia is carried out "in Word and Deed," but sometimes, as in worship, the Word is primary, at other times, as in the Memorial Weekend 5K fundraiser, the Deed is primary.

What is the date of the next Special Meeting of the Corporation?

November 17, 2018 12:30pm-4:30pm at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, New Rochelle, NY.

More information will be available within the next two weeks.

Is Koinonia having phone issues?

Yes. Since the May 2018 storm, the phone systems have not functioned properly. We are converting back to digital and implementing analog. All phone issues should be resolved no later than October 17, 2018. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. You can email Joanne Knudson – joanne@koinoniany.org, Richard Pratti – rich@koinoniany.org, General questions – register@koinoniany.org The Board – board@koinoniany.org We’ve set up a temporary cell phone – Call 845-701-9737. Thank you for your patience.

Koinonia has served churches, schools and individuals for decades through its mission to be a ministry “Where God transforms and prepares people in an outdoor environment to love and serve one another.”

Let us be open to God’s guidance, embrace the love of Christ as we embrace one another, and be filled with the hope that God’s Holy Spirit gives to us.

If you have any more questions please email board@koinoniany.org and you will receive a response.

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