By Clark Judge.
(April 5, 2022) — An angry U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal on Tuesday fired back at the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America after it declined to act on an offer by a local nonprofit to purchase the Deer Lake Scout Reservation.
Calling the decision “neither ethical or morally correct,” Blumenthal urged the Council — the owner of Deer Lake — to “engage in good-faith negotiations” and reach a “mutually agreeable” settlement to sell the 255-acre property to Pathfinders, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and protecting it as green space.
That hasn’t happened, despite a last-minute proposal last week by Pathfinders. Its bid was rejected on Monday.
“This shocking decision by the Connecticut Yankee Council,” Blumenthal said in a prepared statement, “is antithetical to the mission of the Boy Scouts. One of the paramount purposes of Scouting is to prepare young people to make strong ethical and moral choices. But the Council’s action is neither “ethical or morally correct.”
A Council spokesperson declined to comment.
Deer Lake has been for sale since last fall, with three potential buyers involved. One is Pathfinders. Another is the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit whose mission is “to create parks and protect land for the people.” The third is a private developer, Fortitude Capital LLC.
Until last month, TPL and Fortitude Capital were the only parties involved, with TPL making a $2.4-million bid based on fair-market value and Fortitude Capital nearly doubling the offer at $4.625 million. With talks at a virtual standstill, the Connecticut Yankee Council in February announced that it conditionally accepted the higher proposal – with the condition that it would consider “superior offers” by a March 31 deadline (since extended to May 1).
That’s when Pathfinders entered the picture, engaging in an aggressive 11th-hour fundraising campaign that produced last week’s proposal that Ted Langevin, its chairman, considered “a superior offer.” The Boy Scouts disagreed. They rejected it and, apparently, amended the terms for sale – with Langevin in a Facebook posting Tuesday referring to “a higher price” for the property.
He did not specify what that “higher offer” is.
“We’ve encouraged our realtor to work with the Pathfinders,” a Council spokesperson said late Monday, “and any other interested party to submit a superior offer until May 1.”
Blumenthal’s statement followed an interview in last weekend’s New Haven Register with the property’s highest bidder, Fortitude Capital founder and CEO Margaret Streicker, where she called on the senator, state Atty. Gen. William Tong and Gov. Ned Lamont “to put their money where their mouth is and actually raise the offer of the Boy Scouts” – a comment that one conservationist termed “political baiting.”
Striecker sits on the Connecticut Yankee Council’s Board of Directors, a position that critics decry as a conflict of interest. In fact, one conservation group reached out to Tong’s office Monday, asking it to investigate possible instances of impropriety and wrongdoing by Streicker and the Council.
“It seems to me,” said a spokesperson, “this should raise the ire of the Attorney General.”
As it turns out, it wasn’t Tong whose ire was raised. It was Blumenthal, who supported the preservation of Deer Lake when he appeared at a January news conference there.
“Since its founding,” he said Tuesday, “environmental values have been a core principle of the Boy Scouts. This action betrays those values and public service. The Boy Scouts are choosing money and development of a pristine part of Connecticut over a competitive offer that preserves open space for future campers and all Connecticut residents. I strongly urge the Boy Scouts to engage in good-faith negotiations with Pathfinders to reach a mutually agreeable price.”
Photos by Clark Judge.
Editor’s Note: This is a developing story, and may be updated.