A plan by the Saratoga County Town of Milton to purchase a former Cub Scout camp appears to be in dire straits. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard has the latest on today’s developments.
Twin Rivers Council voted Wednesday night to not grant the Town of Milton any more leniency in a plan to purchase its former 300-acre cub scout camp, Camp Boyhaven.
Milton Supervisor Scott Ostrander said the town’s attorney was informed of the council’s decision on Thursday.
He said as for now, facing a Friday deadline, the deal is dead.
“Unless somebody comes into my office by tomorrow and hands us $500,000, I’m gonna say ‘yes,’” said Ostrander.
To meet the sale price of $1 million, the town has bonded $500,000. The other half would have come as a donation to Twin Rivers from an anonymous donor. But the donor backed out. At a meeting last week, the town voted to move forward with the purchase incumbent on another party coming up with the remaining $500,000, to be given directly to the council.
Before news broke of the decision by the council, the Milton town board on Wednesday asked for an extension on Friday’s 1 p.m. closing date.
The Town of Milton had been seeking to work out a co-purchasing agreement with land conservation organization Saratoga PLAN, which had begun taking pledges to help meet its $500,000 goal to assist with the purchase.
Speaking Thursday morning, Saratoga PLAN Executive Director Maria Trabka explained that a change of contract could not be implemented before Friday’s deadline.
“It is not something that we would be able to do tomorrow because we didn’t take the loan because we thought that they needed this, the 30-day extension. So we can get the loan at any point but we didn’t want to take the loan until we knew for sure, so we can’t close tomorrow. Because they have told us that they could not close tomorrow,” said Trabka.
With potential changes to the contract, the deal would have needed what’s called a permissive referendum, therefore requiring an extension of at least 30 days.
But with the news that Twin Rivers would not grant an extension, local resident and attorney Frank Rossi, Jr., who had also created an online fundraiser to support a donation to Twin Rivers for the camp, was critical of the scouting organization Thursday morning.
In a statement emailed to WAMC, Rossi said in part:
“Forcing a party to close under a presently invalid contract is not legally supported, and TRC is out of line demanding that such a closing under an invalid contract must happen at a time certain.”
Mark Switzer, Twin Rivers Council CEO and Scout Executive, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Those in support of the purchase expressed their frustration after Wednesday night’s meeting. Lifelong Milton resident Jim Staulters parked his truck outside town hall with two signs reading “Buy Camp Boyhaven.”
“I’ve been to Camp Boyhaven, I know what it is, I’ve put a lot of time in working for this town, I’ve worked for my neighborhood for over 50 years. And this just irks me to no end, I’ll tell ya, this is ridiculous. They don’t want to spend the money on the buildings, they don’t want to spend money on anything. And now we’re going to lose this project,” said Staulters.
Town planning board chair Larry Woolbright, who had worked to secure the failed deal with the anonymous donor and later sought support from Saratoga PLAN, said it was over.
“And so one 1 o’clock Friday passes. We’re going to be done. This deal is off,” said Woolbright.
But Ostrander points out that the collapse of the current contract would not prevent the town from bidding for the camp again.
“There’s nothing that says we couldn’t put another bid in if we opened up the bids,” said Ostrander.
The next Milton town board meeting is set for Monday at 7 p.m.