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Months later, Deer Lake sale is still in limbo

Adirondack lean-to shelters at one of the camp sites at Deer Lake Scout Reservation in Killingworth, Connecticut.
Wikimedia Commons
Adirondack lean-to shelters at one of the camp sites at Deer Lake Scout Reservation in Killingworth, Connecticut.

The future of Deer Lake in Killingworth, Connecticut, is still unclear two months after a May deadline for bids for the property.

The current owners, the Connecticut Yankee Council, part of the Boy Scouts of America, are locked in negotiations with a developer and a non-profit over the price for the land and how it will be used.

A lawsuit to preserve a bird sanctuary on the property could stop any future owner from developing the land beyond its current use.

“In this case, we’re asking the court to declare whether there is a public trust in a dedicated bird sanctuary at Deer Lake, as a result of the Boy Scouts of America, a charitable organization, having dedicated a bird sanctuary in the name of Richard English, who was a generous donor to the Boy Scouts,” said Keith Ainsworth, an environmental lawyer representing local resident David Stephenson.

The Connecticut Yankee Council declined requests for comment. Ainsworth said the lawsuit will go ahead, despite opposition from the Boy Scouts.

“They were looking into the propriety of the charitable organization selling the property to a board member, an insider,” he said. “There’s a public aspect to [a charitably deductible, tax-deductible organization] operation, and private benefit to an insider is something that the [state] Attorney General’s office enforces.”

The Connecticut Yankee Council put the property up for sale earlier this year and initially accepted a multi-million dollar bid from a property developer, who is also one of their board members.

The state Attorney General’s office has an open investigation into the legality of the sale.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.