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Camp Kilworth: Boy Scouts appeal decision regarding sale of property to Federal Way

The Pacific Harbors Council of the Boy Scouts of America will appeal to the state Supreme Court to ultimately decide whether it can sell Camp Kilworth to Federal Way.

This is the last opportunity the city may have to buy the 25-acre Federal Way property that overlooks Puget Sound. The city first showed interest in the land in 2005. Federal Way hoped to purchase the camp and open it to the public by 2008. But a long legal battle between the Boy Scouts and two of the property's trusts has kept the sale from taking place.

Grants to purchase the camp are still earmarked and the city is still interested. But there is no telling how long the city will be able to hold on to the funds, assistant city manager Cary Roe said.

"We're still very interested in the potential to purchase this property," Roe said.

Background

The land was deeded to the scouts in the 1930s by William Kilworth and his second wife. The deed requires the land be used for scouting purposes. The Boy Scouts wish to sell the land and use the profits to improve other scouting camps.

The city offered to buy Camp Kilworth from the Boy Scouts for $3 million in October 2005. Upon its offer to purchase the camp, the city agreed to let the scouts continue periodic use of the property. It also plans to open the camp to the public. But the trusts — believing the agreement to sell the camp to the city goes against the deed — are fighting the sale.

Ongoing legal battle

When the scouts and trusts were not able to come to terms with one another three years ago, the issue went to court.

In September 2007, Judge Thomas Larkin ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts. He noted the city planned to continue letting the scouts use the land. The city was hopeful the sale could continue.

But the trusts appealed Larkin's decision and the case was taken to the Court of Appeals, Division II, where it was overturned in February 2008. Now, it's the Boy Scouts' turn to appeal. This is the last appeal opportunity.

"There is no other court to appeal it to," Federal Way city attorney Pat Richardson said.

The state Supreme Court has not decided whether it will take the case, Richardson said, and it is unclear when such a decision would be made. Furthermore, there is no telling how long a ruling could take if the court does accept the case. All the city can do is wait and hope its finances to purchase the property will still be intact by the time a final decision is made.

"Everyone anticipated this occurring sooner than it has," Roe said.

Purchasing the camp

The city plans to use $2.1 million in state funds and another $900,000 in King County Conservation Futures grants to purchase the property. The money was earmarked for Federal Way in 2007. Within the past few months, the city has revisited the funding agencies and made sure the money is still available. For now, it is.

"The property is viewed by the funding agencies and the city as valuable enough and important enough to preserve, and I think they are going to work with us," Roe said.

The city set aside $350,000 for clean-up purposes, according to a report from 2007. That money is still earmarked in the city's budget, Roe said.

The question as to how long the city is willing to wait for the property is one city staff is currently asking. There is no answer to that question yet, Roe said.

"A lot for us is going to depend on if it continues to skid without a decision," he said.

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