NH Boy Scouts to sell property to pay settlement

MANCHESTER, NH – The Boy Scouts of America Daniel Webster Council will be listing its long-standing headquarters at 571 Holt Ave. and its five-acre Unity program center in Sullivan County to meet its $ 3.5 million obligation to the National Boy Scouts of America, which is to cover a proposed $ 2.6 billion settlement related to the lawsuits. for sexual abuse.

The move comes as the national organization and 272 regional councils across the country approach the December 28 deadline to vote on a reorganization plan that would pay more than 82,000 sexual abuse claimants. If the plaintiffs approve the settlement, it will be the largest sexual abuse settlement in U.S. history, legal experts have said. It would also free Boy Scouts of America and other litigants from future claims of past abuse.

On Monday, the BSA reached an agreement in principle with its largest insurer, Century Indemnity Co., to pay $ 800 million into the fund. The Hartford, another BSA insurer and former major sponsor of the troops, has agreed to pay $ 787 million, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will pay $ 250 million.

Scout councils across the country are due to contribute $ 820 million, and they are scrambling to find ways to cover their share of the cost, including the sale of goods.

Jay Garee, director of the DWC Scout, said the Daniel Webster Council board had authorized the $ 3.5 million contribution in cash and real estate “after due deliberation.” He said the National BSA and the local council “are working together to achieve two key imperatives: to fairly compensate survivors of past abuse in Scouting and to ensure that Scouting continues”.

Most regional councils, including Daniel Webster, control their own finances and do not undergo financial restructuring. The council oversees eight New Hampshire districts, in which approximately 6,000 boys and girls participate. According to its 2020 annual report, the board had $ 2,511,159 in revenue and $ 2,509,383 in expenses.

The decision to list the Holt Avenue office, the headquarters of the DWC since 1982, and the Unity Program Center was difficult, Garee said. Neither property has yet been listed.

The 10,800 square foot one-story building located at 571 Holt Ave. was built in 1982 and is home to the headquarters of the Daniel Webster Council. It is valued by the city for the 2022 tax year at $ 748,500. Since the DWC is a non-profit organization, it does not pay property taxes to the city.

The Unity Program Center spans five acres on Mica Mine Road in Unity and has indoor space, an outdoor theater, but few facilities, providing rustic camping for Boy Scouts.

Although Garee did not elaborate on plans for DWC’s headquarters, its Scout Help Center recently relocated to the 250-acre Camp Carpenter property off Bodwell Road.

The 3,500 acre Griswold Scout Reserve at Gilmanton Iron Works and Camp Carpenter in Manchester “are not for sale and will continue to play an important role in the delivery of our programming,” added Garee.

Maine campground sales challenged by community

Across the border in Maine, the decision to list three BSA camps for sale sparked an uproar. Last year, the Pine Tree Council authorized the sale of Camp Bomazeen, in Belgrade, which celebrated its 75th anniversary as a Scout camp in 2020, as well as Camp Nutter, in Acton, and Camp Gustin, in Sabattus. . None of the three are officially on sale.

In June, the Maine attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against the Pine Tree Council to stop the sale of Bomazeen, saying it would violate the terms of the camp deed. The 100-acre property on the shore of Great Pond was given to the Boy Scouts in 1944 on the condition that it be held in trust for the Boy Scouts. The property is valued by the city and just under $ 1 million.

Scouts in Maine say their time at camp has helped them grow into successful adults, and the 300-member Bomazeen Alumni Association has joined the state as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Maine Scout volunteers and former Scouts opposed to property sales say highlighting the positive aspects of Scouting is a better way to solve debt than getting rid of the property.

Chris Bernier, of Winslow, Maine, a leader in the fight to keep Bomazeen out of the market, in a recent open letter to the Friends of Bomazeen Facebook page, urged the community to get involved, including writing to officials and researching positions on the board of directors in 2022..

“The answer to debt isn’t to sell stuff and hope the membership grows,” Bernier said. “The answer to the debt is to increase membership and give children in Scouting as many opportunities as possible in as many places as possible. Without our well-distributed camps, delivering exceptional programs becomes even more difficult. “

NH’s Scout tradition “alive and well and safer than ever”

Scouting in New Hampshire began in Manchester in 1912, with the charter of the Manchester Council in 2020 and Daniel Webster’s Council in 1939. Hampshire, ”Garee said.

He said the council is “confident that this decision is the right course of action for securing the future of Scouting in our communities and does not anticipate any direct impact on the local Scout experience for young people or families”.

He said New Hampshire Scouting “is alive and well and safer than ever with some of the strongest, expert-informed youth protection policies found in any organization serving youth.” Volunteers and staff take youth protection very seriously, he said, “and do their part to help keep children safe.”

He said plans for 2022 include Granite Base Camp programs; community service, such as Scouting for Food and other projects; and a variety of summer programs at Scout camp properties.

Boy Scouts of America, based in Irving, Texas, filed for bankruptcy in February 2020, as lawsuits filed by men who said they were sexually abused as Boy Scouts piled up. The settlement, which has yet to be finalized, would require BSA to cede certain insurance rights to the settlement fund in exchange for a liability waiver.

These articles are shared by the partners of The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.

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