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Sale of Camp Kilworth clears its final legal hurdle

The Pacific Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America received permission Sept. 25 to sell its 25-acre Camp Kilworth, near South Dash Point Road in Federal Way, to the City of Federal Way.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Thomas P. Larkin determined the scouts were not violating a 1934 contract in which William Kilworth deeded the property to the Pacific Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America under the notion that it would only be used for scouting purposes.

In fall 2004, the Boy Scouts decided the land was not being used to its potential and capacity, said Doug Dillow, Pacific Harbors Council executive. The council did not have the means to develop or maintain the site, so it put the property up for sale, he said.

In October 2005, Federal Way crafted an agreement with Pacific Harbors Council to buy the property for $3 million.

However, Kilworth had passed away by this time and the purchase of the land was held up by the William Kilworth Trust and the Florence Kilworth Trust due to legalities. The trusts argued the sale of the land violated the original deed.

Larkin's decision will allow the city to proceed in its purchase of Camp Kilworth. The city will use $2.1 million in state funds and another $900,000 in King County Conservation Futures grants to purchase the property, according to a Sept. 26 joint press release from the City of Federal Way and Pacific Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America.

The city expects to convert the camp into a park and hopes to open it to the public sometime in 2008, said Donna Hanson, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services director. Larkin ruled the Kilworth name must remain attached to the property.

The city has set aside $350,000 for clean-up purposes, Hanson said. It will also seek grants for needed improvements to the property and its facilities, she said.

The city has an obligation to ensure the property is safe for unsupervised public use before it can be opened, Hanson said.

"We will not open it (Camp Kilworth) if it is not safe," Hanson said.

The Pacific Harbor Council Boy Scouts of America will maintain access to the land several times throughout any given year and will use it free of charge for scouting purposes, according to the press release. Larkin ruled the money retrieved from the sale of the camp can be used by the scouts for improvements at other Pacific Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America properties.

The two Kilworth trusts have the option of appealing Larkin's decision.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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