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Scout council sends out Camp Easton survey

Email asks volunteers, supporters their views on selling site

The Inland Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts has sent out 10,000 emails asking supporters, Scout families and volunteers their views on selling Camp Easton.

The goal, said Tim McCandless, the CEO of the Spokane-based regional Scouts group, is to help board members decide whether to sell or keep the historic camp on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s east shore about 20 miles south of Coeur d’Alene.

Some Scouts and neighbors of Camp Easton reacted angrily in August when they learned of a plan to swap Camp Easton for a new Boy Scout camp to be built by a developer on the west side of the lake.

To address concerns, the Inland Northwest Council hired a company to develop the questionnaire.

McCandless said respondents can email answers or ask for a written copy of the questions. The deadline for returning the questionnaire is Saturday.

The executive council, which will decide the matter, has said it wants to make the decision by the end of January, McCandless added. Stacey Cowles, publisher of The Spokesman-Review, is a member of that council.

Results of the survey will be published online, along with any comments respondents choose to add to the survey answers, he said.

Discovery Land Co., an Arizona developer, told the council it would convert Camp Easton’s 383 acres into residential homes. In exchange, Discovery said it will foot the bill for a modern Boy Scouts camp at Sunup Bay on undeveloped land on the lake’s west side.

Some Scout volunteers and leaders voiced opposition to the sale, saying the current camp has a rich history and that the new site cannot match Easton’s shoreline and natural qualities. Camp Easton has been a popular camp for regional Scouts since 1929.

Backers of the swap say Camp Easton’s facilities are in poor condition and that the camp is divided by a busy state highway.

The proposed site includes 270 acres originally eyed as a residential-recreation development by Marshall Chesrown’s Black Rock company. After Black Rock filed for bankruptcy, Mountain West Bank took over the deed. Last year, Discovery Coeur d’Alene Investors LLC signed a deal to pay $4.5 million to the bank for the land.

The deal didn’t close and the bank sued Discovery. Both sides dismissed the suit last month, an action that McCandless said has no impact on the possible swap.

“Before they finalize a purchase, they are waiting on the Boy Scouts to make a decision,” McCandless said. “Before we sent out the survey, we spoke to them and they confirmed the offer’s terms, as we understand them, are the same.”

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