News

Pristine land lingers in limbo

By JACINDA HOWARD

The Mirror

Camp Kilworth, a 25-acre slice of nature adored by local Scouts and residents, still faces legal hurdles involving its future.

More than a year and half after Federal Way decided to purchase Camp Kilworth, the city is still negotiating with the camp's two trust foundations as well as the Pacific Harbors Council Boy Scouts of America.

In the 1930s, William Kilworth donated the open space located off Dash Point Road to the Pacific Harbors Council to be used for Boy Scout activities.

In fall 2004, the council 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, and 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.

Federal Way decided to buy Camp Kilworth to preserve its natural beauty and offer the public a place to enjoy views of Puget Sound, said Donna Hanson, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.

The city agreed to purchase the property for public use, with a stipulation that the Boy Scouts could continue to use it for scouting events, Dillow said.

Once the sale goes through, the city would be responsible for improving and maintaining the site as well as opening the land to the public, Dillow said. Pacific Harbors Council and other Boy Scout groups would use the land in relatively the same manner.

"It's a win, win, win situation," Dillow said.

Legal matters

Before the city can improve the park and open it to the public, legal issues must be sorted through. Soon after the city agreed to buy Camp Kilworth, the purchase and sell agreement became complicated.

William Kilworth included a clause when donating the property: The Boy Scouts had to use the property for scouting purposes, and if it were to be sold and no longer used for those purposes, he must first be consulted.

But then Kilworth passed away, and the William Kilworth Foundation was created on behalf of his estate.

Kilworth's wife, Florence, held control of at least part of the estate. She then passed away, and the Florence Kilworth Foundation was created on behalf of her estate.

Now, the process of sorting out who owns what in regards to Camp Kilworth is still being reviewed, Dillow said.

Before Pacific Harbors Council can sell Camp Kilworth, the deed restrictions must be removed. The Scouts must also come to an agreement with the two trustees and their respective banks.

Attorneys representing the Boy Scouts and trustees have been attempting to sort through legal language involved in the property's sale since November 2005, Dillow said.

"The deed is a legal document, therefore before it can be changed, there is a process of law that must be followed," Dillow said.

Reality check

While establishing an agreement that meets every party's needs is important, some Federal Way residents are beginning to wonder whether the purchase of Camp Kilworth will ever become a reality. The city is not going to wait forever, Federal Way resident Annette Tabor said.

The city is under the impression that if the scouting council and the two trusts cannot reach an agreement by Sept. 6, the Washington State Superior Court would decide if the sale of the property is legal, Federal Way City Attorney Pat Richardson said.

Dillow was unable to comment on whether the scouts and trust foundations were settling the issue in court.

Both the scouts and city remain optimistic that an agreement will be made and the deed cleared before the city's purchase and sell agreement expires in December.

"We don't see anything that would prevent (the purchase), unless something unknown appears," Hanson said.

If the city is able to purchase the land, the property would need to be cleaned and a master plan as to how to use it would need to be established, Hanson said. The city wants to make sure the old buildings on the land are up to safety standards before the area would be open to the public, Hanson said.

However, if the deed is not cleared by December, neither the city nor the Pacific Harbor Council are sure what will happen next.

The Federal Way City Council is not looking at other possible land purchases to compensate for a possible loss of the Camp Kilworth agreement, Hanson said.

As for now, the city is at a standstill, unable to do anything until the deed on Camp Kilworth has been cleared.

"My guess is at the point of time when a decision is formed, we would come forward with an update or announcement," Dillow said.

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

The money

The following funding sources have been confirmed to date:

Of the $3 million set aside for the Camp Kilworth purchase, $1.55 million will be provided by the city and be dedicated toward the purchase, clean-up and safety improvements, said Betty Sanders, Park Planning and Development coordinator.

Another $1 million will come in the form of an Interagency for Outdoor Recreation grant from Washington state, she said. This money would be used for the purchase of the camp.

The State of Washington Appropriation will provide a capital budget of $1.1 million to be used for purchase, preservation, development of a master plan and park improvements, Sanders said.

The last $400,000 will come in the form of a King County Conservation Futures Tax and be used for the acquisition of the land, she said.

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