Prepared by Camp Easton Forever, Inc.
Camp Easton Forever filed lawsuit because:
It was with much regret, long deliberation and much due diligence that we finally felt the only option left to halt the sale of CampEastonwas to file a lawsuit against the Inland Northwest Council. There have been at least 100 phone calls, e-mails and letters sent to Tim McCandless, CEO of the Inland Northwest Council, personally showing him how this land swap is not in the best interests of Scouting and will actually be very detrimental instead. It is our hope that Mr. McCandless and the Board will finally see reason and cease proceeding with this “deal” immediately.
It is our opinion this perilous path that the Council has taken is headed for a lawsuit either way. Gozzer and their parent company Discovery have a history of dealings that often end in lawsuits. Camp Easton Forever is on the side of Scouting and wants nothing less than the Scouts to be the winners in this situation.
We strongly believe that the Council is duty-bound to honor the commitment made to the Fitze family and many others to preserve this camp at its present location in perpetuity. Additionally, we have expressed serious concerns about the proposed land swap. Below are some of the important issues and data points we have shared with Tim McCandless and the Inland Northwest Council:
- The council uses safety concerns as one of its biggest arguments for selling the property; there has never in the history ofCampEastonbeen a Scout or other person who has been injured crossing the road. The recent Highway 97 Corridor Study reported there were only 2 accidents in a five-year period in the mile long stretch that encompassesCampEastonland and neither had to do with the crosswalk or boys crossing.
- The Idaho Department of Transportation has offered to help the BSA obtain funding and permitting to build a tunnel under Highway 97 as a crosswalk. Scout leader volunteers could also be used as crossing guards to eliminate any risk of injury, at a much lower cost.
- According to the 2010 Form 990 tax returns filed by the Inland NW Council Endowment Foundation, the Council has over $2 million in liquid assets that could be used to correct some of the problems at Camp Easton. With the unexpected prospect of losing this priceless camp, numerous donors have stepped forward and volunteered time, money and services to fix these problems, provided they can be assured that Camp Easton will not be sold in the future.
- Much of the land at the proposed new site,SunupBay, falls under the tag of “hazardous areas” according toKootenaiCountyrecords. There are steep basalt slopes, erosion issues and clay overlay, all adding to real danger for Scouts who might be utilizing that parcel as a Camp.
- The waterfront on the new site is steep to the water and has a quick drop off within 10′ of shore. The present Camp has a gentle slope to deeper water.
- There is no real beach area at the proposed new site (hard basalt rock with trees and shrubs), and what is there cannot by law be altered. The 25-foot setback forKootenaiCountyprohibits altering that area and a check with theCountyCommissioners’ office validates this fact. The depth of the beach at Sunup is half the depth as that of the presentCampEaston. Large canoes and groups of boys would find it difficult to all be in a beach location at once. The sandy waterfront is Camp Easton’s greatest feature and that’s why it is used prominently in all of its marketing.
- The new site sits adjacent to aptly named Windy Bay. High winds kick up without warning which makes it unsafe for young boys learning to sail, canoe, row, kayak and water ski.
- The present zoning at the new site does not allow for a gun or archery range; zoning changes are difficult and timely to obtain, and not guaranteed.
- Presently there are 3 lot owners at the Sunup site, and two of those have expressed verbally they don’t want to sell. A letter stating this is presently being drafted by those property owners opposing this swap.
- Beachfront statistics on the Sunup property being provided by the Inland Northwest Council include footage owned by the present Homeowners Association at Sunup Bay; they are not owned by the Discovery Land Company, and at this time, have little chance of being sold to them. Beachfront atCampEastonpresent site is owned entirely by the BSA and far outweighs that at Sunup, both in quality and in footage.
- A camp environment should be diverse with a wide variety in the type of vegetation and terrain; it should have a variety of trees, forest, brush and meadows. CampEastonoffers that now. The Sunup property has very little variation in vegetation. The timber has been cleared and brush removed for building home sites. The character of adjoining lands is private residents and farmland in various stage of cultivation. The location of Sunup property limits access to trail systems for hiking, biking, etc.
- The topography of the Sun Up property is too steep for physically challenged campers and especially those scouts who are in wheel chairs. Wheel chair use would be limited to the level areas on the property. They would not have access to the waterfront activities, except by motorized carts, and then the beach area would not allow them use of their wheelchairs. The information on accessibility is found in American with Disability Act (ADA) publications.
- Contrary to Council statements, all 420 plus acres of land at the present Camp Easton is utilized by the Scouts. Some of the more wilderness areas are where Scout leaders have taught survival skills and much hiking takes place in those spots. Scout leaders are willing to publicly state this. The new site is excessively steep with over 50% deemed unusable by the previous developer records.
- It is highly doubtful the present septic system at the Sunup property, built to serve 36 home sites, will be able to accommodate the needs of a Boy Scout Camp serving over 300 persons at any one time. A new expensive system, both to build and to maintain, would be needed to meet the state and local standards.
- According to qualified U.S. Forestry Rangers familiar with the Sunup site, due to the steep topography, tall dry grass, and predominately-westerly winds at that location, should an accidental fire happen it could not be contained, even considering present existing fire stations.
- There has not yet been an official appraisal on either theCampEastonsite or the Sunup proposed site; a sizable land deal of this proportion demands it.
- Discovery Land Company is now being sued by Mountain West Bank for failure to perform on the purchase of the land they intended to swap. Discovery Land Company does not own the land nor at this time, have an option on that land, they are offering to swap in this deal.
- According to Kootenai County Court documents, Discovery and their various LLC’s, has faced numerous lawsuits against them for non-payment of funds and follow through on contractual agreements.
- The Council has shaken the faith and trust of the many donors to Camp Easton/BSA by even considering this sale. Some major donors have already expressed their intent to no longer donate to Camp Easton as long as the potential of a sale is looming. The longer this drags on the worse this situation becomes, and the long-term damage to Camp Easton and scouting in general may be permanent and irreparable unless the Council takes immediate action to terminate sale negotiations.
It appears these, and other concerns, are falling on deaf ears. The Council does not hold the market on sound real estate, business, leadership and technical expertise, and should be listening to the above-mentioned data points regarding this sale ofCampEastonand proposed land swap.
The few Town Hall meetings held by the Council included a PowerPoint presentation that had inaccurate statistics, and a professionally produced slide show that was slanted in its presentation. Perhaps even more alarming was the defensive stance taken by the Council executives when legitimate concerns were raised at these meetings, either categorically dismissing valid points or debating with those who spoke up in opposition to the Council’s very slanted position.