The Western Reserve Land Conservancy is raising money to purchase a mothballed Girl Scout property in Richfield to preserve it.
Acquisitions manager Joe Leslie declined to give the purchase price or other details of the agreement.
“It’s got to be done quickly if it’s going to be done at all,” he said. “We’re looking for partners, at getting funds from philanthropic campaigns.”
The 336-acre Camp Crowell/Hilaka on the Medina and Summit counties border is one of several properties that the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio has mothballed in the last few years.
Girl Scout parents and other supporters have tried to block the sale of the camps, but now are trying another tack — raising the money to buy the land from the nonprofit Western Reserve Land Conservancy, if it succeeds in its purchase.
“It is a formidable task, but with help from foundations, corporate funders and ‘angel investors,’ we are confident that we can save this precious land and transform it into a place where the entire community will benefit,” said Corey Ann Ringle, president of the Friends of Crowell/Hilaka.
The organization needs “in excess of $4 million” to acquire the property, according to its website.
Girl Scout families and supporters donated the money to buy Crowell/Hilaka in 1937 at a discounted price from vacuum cleaner inventor Jim Kirby.
The property has historic buildings, two lakes, streams and a dance hall built on railroad car springs. Abolitionist John Brown worked on the property, then owned by Mason and Fanny Oviatt, as a shepherd and tanner in 1842.
The friends group says it would preserve the property as a local heritage site and promote outdoor recreation and camping if it is able to acquire the property from the like-minded conservancy.
Meanwhile, the local Girl Scout Council has sold or is selling 11 of the 14 camps it had four years ago. Officials say the camps are costly to maintain and need thousands of dollars in improvements that it cannot afford. The Girl Scouts announced last week that Camp Lejnar in Lake County was sold and that Great Trail Camp in Carroll County is in the process of being sold.
Proceeds from these sales and others will be used to improve three camps that will remain — Ledgewood in Summit County, Sugarbush in Trumbull County and Timberlane in Erie County.
The Western Reserve Land Conservancy seeks to preserve Northeast Ohio’s natural resources by putting permanent easements on property to prevent them from being developed. For details about the Friends’ campaign to buy Crowell/Hilaka, visit www.friendsofcrowellhilaka.org or call 216-921-8789.
By Carol Biliczky - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
©2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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