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Boy Scouts of America Under Pressure To Sell Assets To Satisfy Bankruptcy, Settlement To Sexual Abuse Victims
By Tina Traster
Scouts Honor: Stony Point Supervisor Jim Monaghan says the town will do anything it can to purchase Camp Bullowa, which has been put up for sale by the Boy Scouts of America Greater Hudson Valley Council. The Council has been forced to sell assets to satisfy the court that is overseeing the Boy Scouts of America’s bankruptcy, which is in the process of reorganizing.
The Boy Scouts of America, the parent organization, must pay roughly $220 million toward a trust to compensate tens of thousands of former members who say they were abused as scouts. The proposal is part of a reorganization plan put forth by the nonprofit detailing how it intends to handle the massive child sex abuse case that’s threatening its existence – the largest ever involving a single national organization – and emerge as a viable entity.
It comes a little more than a year after Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy in federal court in Delaware. At the time, the organization said it faced 275 lawsuits in state and federal courts plus another 1,400 potential claims. Nearly 95,000 claims were filed by the November deadline set by the bankruptcy judge.
“The Boy Scouts of America Greater Hudson Valley Council has made the difficult decision to list some camp properties for sale,” said the Hudson Valley’s Council’s CEO Richard Stockton. “While this has the potential to impact operations at one or more properties including Camp Bullowa, Durland Scout Reservation and Camp Nooteeming, we have not yet finalized any sales and will continue operations as planned in these locations for the summer 2021 season.”
Monaghan says he’s had preliminary conversations with Council leaders about purchasing the camp in recent weeks, but no formal negotiations have taken place.
“This is a vital piece of property, maybe one of the most important pieces of land in the town and we must try to preserve it,” said Supervisor Jim Monaghan. “We are looking to see if we can partner with a conservancy group to see if we can purchase the land.”
The 313-acre camp site at 17 Franck Road, is zoned SR-R Special Recreation/Residential, which allows single-family residence on 4.6 acre lots, public parks, playgrounds and outdoor recreation facilities.
In part, a possible purchase is complicated by the fact that there is no price tag. Camp Bullowa is being marketed along with two other Hudson Valley camps, to liquidate assets to pay for the settlements but brokers Cushman & Wakefield have not included an asking price.
“If the town purchased the land, a portion would continue to house the scouts and would be used for recreation while the rest would be preserved as open space,” said the supervisor. “But here’s the problem. The municipality can only pay for the land’s appraised value, or a 10 percent increase over that value, and we don’t have an appraisal.”
The supervisor said he would initiate an independent appraisal for the land.
Stockton said the 501C3 is looking for the highest bidder.
“The Town of Stony Point can make a bid like any other buyer, but the Attorney General’s office will not let us sell for anything less than the appraised value,” Stockton said. Nonprofit organizations must seek approval from the New York State Attorney General’s Office or the court when it sells an asset to prove the sale is fair market value.
Stockton, clearly upset over the prospect of losing one or more of these three camps, also said the Council is going to seek to get as much as it can on one or more of the assets to satisfy its legal obligations. “We hope to retain at least one of these properties depending on the market value needed to fund our council’s contribution to the survivor’s compensation Trust as part of the national organization’s bankruptcy process,” he said.
Stockton would not say how much the Council needs to raise but he did explain that if it could salvage one or even two of the camps by selling a third at a high enough price, his organization would do so because the organization wants to preserve any camp that can be saved.
Also for sale are Durland Scout Reservation, a 1,385-acre site at 65-300 Clear Lake Road in Putnam Valley, and Camp Nooteeming, a 272-acre site at 22-169 Camp Nooteeming Road in Salt Point.
“We are the sellers, not because we want to be, but because we are being forced to sell,” said Stockton. “We have a fiduciary responsibility.”
Town leaders throughout Rockland County are stepping in to control the fate of large parcels of land. The Town of Orangetown has partnered with the HNA Palisades Training Center to redevelop the 106-acre parcel on Route 9W that has been on the market for at least two years.
Stony Point has played a role in facilitating the sale of the Patriot Hills Golf Course and the former Letchworth Village to local developer Raj Amar.
Monaghan says the Camp Bullowa site is sacred to the town.
“It’s where the town holds the annual fishing derby. It’s where our police officers train. This land was deeded from a Stony Point family. I will do everything I can to save Camp Bullowa.”
The Bullowa family trust gifted the land to the Boy Scouts in 1947 and left money in a trust for maintaining the property, the Supervisor said there is no covenant on the deed that indicates any restrictions for a sale or use of the land.
The Greater Hudson Valley Council, which has not filed bankruptcy, continues to operate, serving 10,000 young people on an annual basis. “We are looking forward to an enriching summer of programming including STEM workshops, merit badge workshops, family nights, and other summer adventures,” said Stockton.