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Camp Virginia Price Still Up in the Air

Nov. 20, 2017

by Nan Shnitzler

After the selectmen emerged from executive session Nov. 16, Town Administrator Don Lowe reported that the $800,000 selectmen had authorized him to offer for Camp Virginia would likely be rejected.

According to Lowe, Lee Freudenheim, the real estate agent for property owners The Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, said he would convey the offer but knew it would be rejected. Lowe said he mentioned the extensive logging the property had undergone, but Freudenheim didn’t think it had had a negative impact; further, Freudenheim said, he was speaking with other potential buyers.

Lowe then told him that the citizens petition that will bring the purchase before the town in a Special Town Meeting Nov. 27 specified a purchase price of $1,050,000. Freudenheim said “that would not get it done” and the price would have to be higher, according to Lowe. He told Freudenheim that he did not have the selectmen’s authorization to offer more, and the citizens petition cannot be changed (except on Town Meeting floor), so he had no room for further negotiation.

Lowe said when he mentioned the house lots that could be sold, Freundenheim told him that they were “not on the table” and the Girl Scouts were not entertaining offers on them.

“So, they have a much higher view of the value of the 50 acres, plus or minus, than we do,” Lowe said. “What we know to be true is the article as written will not get a deal done.”

In response to a question from Selectmen Chairman Jonathan Keep, Lowe said the Girl Scouts’ most recent appraisal was $1.45 million for the entire 56-acre property, less the cell tower, whose revenue they will keep for themselves. In response to a question about amending the article with a higher price at Town Meeting, Lowe said that town tradition doesn’t typically increase a borrowing, though there is nothing in state law that says it can’t be done.

Ken Troup, head of the working group that put together the warrant article, said if Town Meeting approves the article as is, and the ballot vote affirms the borrowing, it would “call the owner’s bluff” by being “cash in hand,” rather than the owners having to find and vet an offer of more.

“It’s not necessary to do anything else than to wait to see what happens at Town Meeting,” Troup said.