By Clark Judge.
(March 18, 2022) — The Killingworth Board of Selectmen on Friday issued a certified resolution, “strongly supporting” the town’s effort to protect the Deer Lake Scout Reservation from private development and the Trust for Public Land’s action to acquire the property for that purpose.
The 255-acre property is owned by the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, but its board decided last month to sell it to Fortitude Capital LLC, a private developer. However, the Council said it would welcome competing offers until March 31.
According to the Connecticut Yankee Council, Fortitude Capital’s offer of a reported $4.625 million is one of two it entertained. The other is by TPL, a non-profit which represents Killingworth and put forward a proposal of a reported $2.5 million.
The wide disparity can be explained by appraisals. The Connecticut Yankee Council had an assessment of $3.7-4.2 million, nearly twice that of TPL’s $2-2.4 million. Because TPL is bound to stay within defined boundaries of its appraisal, it cannot budge from its offer.
In accepting Fortitude Capital’s proposal last month, the Connecticut Yankee Council made it clear that the gap between the two offers was too big to ignore. It would choose the higher deal unless another appeared by March 31.
“While we recognize the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts’ rights as landowners to transfer the property to the highest bidder,” Killingworth’s Board of Selectmen wrote Friday, “we ask that they strongly consider the value of conserving the land as was enjoyed by the Boy Scouts for decades. To do otherwise would be disingenuous to the Scouts’ Outdoor Code to do their best to ‘be conservation minded.’”
What impact the declaration will have is unknown, but First Selectwoman Nancy Gorski reported Friday morning that she already heard from U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, an outspoken advocate of retaining Deer Lake as an open space.
“What we needed to do,” Gorski said, “is to confirm our resolution to ensuring that Deer Lake remain open space. Am I confident it’s going to have an impact? At this point, I’m pulling out all the stops. You’re never going to win if you stop trying.”