The historic Winnebago Scout Reservation (WSR) near Marble Rock in Iowa will soon become a county park.
The Winnebago Council of the Boy Scouts of America Executive Board on Oct. 25 unanimously decided to sell the 320-acre wooded camp to the Floyd County Conservation Board for $750,000. The vote took place during the board’s regular monthly meeting at Wartburg College in Waverly, wcfcourier.com, Waterloo, reported.
Much planning still needs to be done with the site. Developing a modern campground and other things will easily run six figures. The director’s lodge will likely become a Scouting museum.
After months of sometimes contentious meetings and worry about WSR’s future, 31 board members in attendance excitedly accepted Floyd County’s offer with little discussion but a lot of fanfare. Loud applause and many handshakes followed the vote.
Scout and county officials called the vote a win for both organizations. The Scouts unload a financially burdensome property but still get to use it and Floyd County will provide more outdoor recreational opportunities to all citizens.
“I’m quite pleased with the outcome. … All we’re getting is positive energy,” said Todd Wordel, council executive director.
Floyd County Conservation Director Doug Schroeder couldn’t keep a smile off his face after the vote. He said buying WSR is a great opportunity.
“This preserves our natural resources, history and provides recreational opportunities. It meets all our objectives,” Schroeder said.
WSR was established in 1957. The camp includes a swimming pool, dining hall, two shooting ranges and a number of buildings for year-round camping.
The property is appraised at nearly $900,000. Getting top dollar, though, wasn’t the goal, said Larry Pump, board president.
“I firmly believe they will be great stewards of the property and it couldn’t be in better hands,” Pump said. “This organization will uphold Scouting values.”
Winnegbago Council board member Sherman Lundy of Waterloo said the money is important, but preserving the land for everyone to enjoy trumped dollars and cents.
“To me, that’s the Scouting way,” he said.
The only other submitted bid the board considered Thursday was from Jim Dow of Rockford. He offered $705,000 for the camp, plus another 56 acres owned by the council — or, $815,000 for 260 acres, and the council would have to remove buildings.
In April, the council decided to sell WSR and part of Ingawanis Adventure Base near Waverly to be in compliance with Scout mandate requiring all camping operations be self-sustaining by 2013. Wordel said both camps are under utilized, requiring both to be subsidized anywhere from $80,000 to $130,000 a year.
Proceeds from the sale will go into a trust fund for future camping programs and development outdoor programs, Wordel added.
The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will actually purchase the property with the county. Shortly after the county expressed interest in the camp, Schroeder said people started calling his office offering to donate. A little more than $170,000 was raised since the second week of September.
“We want to continue that relationship with Scouts in the past, present and future,” Schroeder said.