HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - With more land
than it needs, the state Boy Scouts of America organization is
selling off some of its Connecticut campgrounds.
The sales mark a change in the Connecticut Rivers Council's
strategic plan, which calls for "genuine assets, not liabilities,"
said Harry Pokorny, the council's executive director.
"It's always difficult to sell these camps because of the
emotional attachment to them," Pokorny said. "It's, 'This is my
camp. This is the camp I went to.'"
The council last month finalized a $560,000 sale of the 130-acre
Nahaco camp to the towns of Woodstock and Eastford. Later this
month, the council is expecting to close a $1 million deal to sell
the 34-acre Camp Wakenah in Salem to Livingston Morris of
The Salem camp hasn't been used as a scout camp for more than 20
years, Pokorny said, and it was used only occasionally for the
scout's adult leadership training program.
The sale of the Salem camp was difficult for the council, which
found itself caught in a bidding war between Bob Kaufman, owner of
Bob's Discount Furniture, and Morris, who is in real estate.
About a year ago, the scouts had planned to sell Camp Wakenah for
$100,000 to the town of Salem to use for recreation. Morris and
Kaufman later submitted bids.
Kaufman proposed a $900,000 purchase price to create a camp for
children with disabilities. But the council's executive board voted
26-1 to sell the land to Morris for the $1 million price, and he
plans to make it into a family retreat, Pokorny said.
The decision raised eyebrows of some town officials.
"(We) knew we couldn't afford that kind of money," said Salem
First Selectman Peter Sielman. "It's obviously very beneficial to
the scouts to get that kind of money. We were kind of surprised they
didn't sell the land for the handicapped camp, though."
Pokorny said the proposal to use the property as a disabilities
camp was a late change in the $900,000 proposal, and it would have
been considered if it had been proposed sooner. Kaufman said that
the proposal came after the council had accepted Morris' bid.
"It seemed logical to keep it as a camp, but unfortunately it
didn't happen," Kaufman said. "I don't want to bash the Boy Scouts.
Things happen for a reason. It was a good project. Unfortunately,
the timing didn't work, but I felt like I was dealt with fairly."
Paul Messier, chairman of the council's Mohegan District, cast
the lone vote against the plan to sell the camp to Morris.
"When these things happen, you would rather see it stay as a
camp, not for personal use," he said. "I wanted to table it and
bring all the parties together and review both proposals."
Pokorny said a large portion of the money from the land sales
will be invested as a part of a capital endowment fund, with the
council spending the interest earned from the investments. The fund
will provide money for capital improvements and maintenance at the
council's remaining camps, he said.