BY JOELLEN WANKEL
SMETHPORT — The Elk Lick Scout Reserve will be turned over as part of the Boy Scouts of America’s bankruptcy and abuse settlement.
The Allegheny Highlands Council, which serves Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegany counties in New York and McKean and Potter counties in Pennsylvania, made the decision after extensive consideration of the options available.
“Through the creation of a local Ad Hoc Committee, we have spent months analyzing all possible options to fulfill our portion of the settlement,” AHC Executive Nathaniel Thornton said. “Our finance committee reviewed budget forecasts for the next several years and deemed it necessary to retain as much of our endowment as possible, which is where any cash contribution would have come from.”
Elk Lick Scout Reserve (ELSR), located at 2420 Bordell Road in Smethport and valued at $950,000, will be turned over, with the proceeds going directly to the Victims Trust. According to the October 2021 newsletter for the AHC, the option was unanimously approved by the board of directors on Sept. 28.
The reserve is 1,500 acres of heavily wooded land that includes several lodges, a central dining hall, a small lake, a modern swimming pool, rifle and archery ranges and a climbing/rappelling tower.
Thornton explained that there is an alternative location, which will be the designated location for future outdoor activities for area scouts.
“Camp Merz located in Mayville, New York will be the host for all summer camping activities within our council,” Thornton said. “Our camping committee has been hard at work since the decision to contribute Elk Lick Scout Reserve in planning appropriate camping activities that would now serve our Cub Scout age youth (Kindergarten through 5th grade). Camp Merz has been exclusively a Scout BSA camp for several years, but we have a dedicated staff and volunteers that are onboard to provide a great camping experience.”
AHC is one of 252 councils nationwide asked to contribute to the BSA settlement, the national settlement fund for which is currently at $1.9 billion. The amount is the highest ever in a sexual abuse case. Contributors to the fund include Hartford Financial Services, the BSA’s insurers, who agreed to contribute $787 million.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who was a contributor to BSA until 2020, agreed to contribute $250 million, while the national BSA has committed to contribute $250 million as well. Roughly $600 million will be contributed by the various local councils.
The formula used to determine each council’s contribution included the council’s assets, number of claims filed within the council and the statute of limitations for the state in which the claims were filed.
AHC was tasked with a contribution of $899,358 to the Bankruptcy and Abuse Settlement.
“The Elk Lick contribution will fulfill the Allegheny Highlands Council contribution to the settlement,” Thornton said. “Nothing will happen with Elk Lick Scout Reserve until the bankruptcy is finalized.”
The French Creek Council, based in Summit Township in Erie County and covering six counties in northwestern Pennsylvania, has agreed to pay $699,673 in cash toward the settlement fund, with no contributions of property.