Clock ticking on city's chance to buy Kilworth


The Mirror

The Boy Scouts’ sale of Camp Kilworth has been delayed until June 15 to give non-commercial interests a chance to buy it.

The board of directors of the Pacific Harbors Council of Boy Scouts voted last Thursday to wait another month for the city of Federal Way to try to arrange an offer for the 25 acres. Otherwise, a sale reportedly for more than $3 million to a housing developer could go forward.

Community members, opposed to development of the land, and city officials requested the extension. An earlier grace period had been given to last Thursday.

Doug Dillow, Scout executive, said Pacific Harbors Council has wanted “from the beginning” for the community to be able to buy the heavily-wooded site and preserve it as a park or other public place.

Citizens who organized a public meeting with Dillow May 16 in Federal Way requested the latest extension, which he indicated will be the last.

“Unfortunately, we are not in a position to delay the sale of the property indefinitely,” Dillow said.

He said a developer has made an offer that is contingent on whether the city buys the property before June 15.

City officials are “exploring financing options” that could include municipal funds, grants “or a combination of the two,” said Derek Matheson, assistant city manager. The research will go to the City Council in early June “so members can decide if and how to move forward,” he said.

Camp Kilworth has been used by Boy Scouts since it was deeded in 1930 by William Kilworth, a Tacoma businessman and philanthropist.

Changes to the land located near Dash Point have included the Tacoma Rotary Club’s construction of a lodge in 1936 and refurbishing of the building in the 1990s by Federal Way Noon Rotary Club. The camp is lightly used in comparison to two other Pacific Harbors-run camps –– Hohobas in Mason County and Thunderbird near Olympia. Those two have a combined 800 acres and need improvements for which proceeds from selling Kilworth would help pay, according to the Scouts council.

“While we would have preferred not to sell the property, we are very excited about the opportunities this sale will shortly provide to thousands of Scouts across the south Puget Sound region,” Dillow said.

Citizens opposing Kilworth’s sale to a private buyer have said they respect the council’s right to sell it but hope public money or grants from non-profit land conservancy groups can be used to place it in public control. No such arrangement has surfaced.

The non-profit Pacific Harbors Council represents 17,500-plus Boy Scouts in all or parts of eight counties, including south King County, where there are approximately 1,000 Scouts. The council is governed by its 40-member board, comprised of people from the eight counties.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565,

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