News

A million here and there for Kilworth

By ERICA HALL

The Mirror

After three months of negotiation, city staff have arrived at a potential purchase agreement with the Boy Scouts of America Pacific Harbor Council for Camp Kilworth, but a formal purchase is contingent as much upon the City Council's approval of the agreement as it is on the Kilworth family's permission to allow the Boy Scouts to sell.

The Federal Way City Council will vote on whether to purchase the property — and assume ownership and maintenance of it — at the Oct. 4 regular meeting. If the Council declines to purchase the property, it might become available for private purchase and development.

Several city council members declined to discuss the issue until they've had a chance to meet and discuss it Oct. 4.

Kilworth deeded the land to the Scouts in the 1930s with the intention it would remain a Scout camp site in perpetuity. Recently, the Pacific Harbors Council said it planned to sell the property to focus on larger, more modern camp sites in the region.

But the property title has a clause saying the Boy Scouts can't sell it without Kilworth's permission. Since Kilworth died several years ago, the Scouts have to get his heirs' permission before they can sell the property.

City officials began exploring the possibility of the city purchasing the park earlier this year, after several former Scouts and some community members asked the city to step in to prevent the 25-acre open space with a view of Puget Sound from being developed into upscale housing.

On the Council's direction, city staff and the Pacific Harbors Council began negotiating what the terms of a sale might be.

After separate appraisals of the property by the Scouts and the city, the city and the Pacific Harbors Council agreed on a sale price of $3 million, with $1.2 million due at closing, $1 million by the first anniversary of the sale and $800,000 by the second anniversary.

The deferred portion of the payment would bear 3.5 percent interest per annum payable annually on the same dates as the principal payments are due, according to the agreement.

According to city staff, the city would pay for the initial $1.2 million payment with cash on hand; later payments would be made with federal, state and nonprofit grants.

But all of that would be contingent upon Kilworth's heirs agreeing to the sale of the property. The contract negotiated by staff and the Pacific Harbors Council says the title issue must be resolved by Dec. 31, 2007, or the deal falls through. Ultimately, it won't be a financial loss to the city if Kilworth's heirs decline to allow the Scouts to sell the property, assistant city manager Derek Matheson said.

In the proposed contract, the Boy Scouts would be allowed to use the camp for two week-long summer day camps, two weekend camps each spring and fall and 12 evening trainings for free, but the Scouts would be responsible for costs to the City for setup, cleaning and other things accommodating their use of the park.

The park also would remain open to the public during Scout use.

In addition, the Scouts would agree to adopt the park and conduct Eagle Scout projects for park maintenance and improvements.

While much depends on the Kilworth family's willingness to sell, several Federal Way businesses and residents are encouraging the City Council to decline purchasing the property.

Last week, the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce's board of directors voted unanimously not to support the purchase, saying the city has difficulty maintaining the parks it already owns without adding another one. Chamber members reiterated the city should maintain its focus on redevelopment in the city center core.

Others agreed, saying the $1.2 million in cash on hand could be put to better use in the city.

In a release issued last week, city staff noted the agreement tentatively negotiated with the Scouts would allow the city to direct adequate revenue to its downtown redevelopment projects.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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