Editor’s note: This story was corrected at 10:30 a.m. on April 26, 2018. A previous version included an incorrect date for a special Town Board meeting about the Boyhaven property.
MILTON — The chairman of the Milton Planning Board announced at Wednesday’s Town Board meeting that the anonymous donor who pledged $500,000 to the town toward the purchase of Camp Boyhaven has rescinded his offer.
Milton had reached an agreement to purchase the 300-acre property from the Twin Rivers Boy Scout Council for $1 million after it closed last summer.
Camp Boyhaven, which is situated off Middle Grove Road along the Kayaderosseras Creek, was going to cost the town $500,000 as Planning Board Chairman Larry Woolbright secured a deal with an anonymous donor for the remaining $500,000.
Woolbright, who has spent the last year working on the purchase between the town and Twin Rivers Boy Scout Council, said the council had accepted the town’s offer instead of one from a private developer because the town was going to preserve the property.
“Part of the deal was that we had to close on the property by the end of the year and it’s nearly four months after that deadline and we haven’t closed,” he said at the Town Board meeting on Wednesday. “I’ve been told the council is expected to vote at their meeting tomorrow to award the contract to a developer instead.” The Twin Rivers Boy Scout Council is scheduled to meet on Thursday.
Woolbright said the sale of the property depended on the generosity of the anonymous donor, who rescinded his offer on Wednesday following attempts made to reveal his identity.
“His friends and family are not aware that he has this money and he’s afraid his identity will be exposed,” Woolbright said. “At this point, the situation looks pretty bleak to me and any opportunity to salvage this deal I urge you to take.”
Town Board member Benny Zlotnick remarked, “We’re in the midst of a financial crisis and someone is going to give us half a million dollars and we’re going to drag our feet wondering where it’s coming from.”
Board member Barbara Kerr said she’s concerned the town might miss the opportunity to purchase the property. She made a motion to purchase Camp Boyhaven at $1 million, which was seconded by Zlotnick.
Acting Malta Town Attorney Tom Peterson said the board could not authorize Kerr’s action without authorizing where the funds would come from.
“You can negotiate the contract and bring it back to the board when a resolution is voted on, but funding would have to be addressed,” he said to Kerr.
Kerr said the town would be receiving $548,000 in contractor’s fees, which could be put toward the purchase.
Town Supervisor Scott Ostrander said those fees were already going toward the $500,000 cost of the property.
“We’ll figure it out,” Kerr said to Ostrander, who replied, “We don’t have a tree we can pull it out of.”
Peterson said he spoke to the attorney representing Twin Rivers Boy Scout Council on Wednesday afternoon who told him there are no issues preventing the town from closing on the property in the next few weeks.
“Until a new contract is put together by the board with funding addressed, we’re still bound by contract in place,” he told the board.
Zlotnick said he rescinded seconding Kerr’s motion to purchase the property for $1 million until after the council has their meeting on Thursday.
“This donor is donating to something they have a personal connection to,” he said of the anonymous donor. “Larry, would you ask him to please reconsider?”
Woolbright said, “My best guess is that he will not reconsider.”
Drew Chesney, council commissioner for Twin Rivers Council, who was in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting, told the board that while there would likely be no immediate action by the council if the town didn’t set a closing date at Wednesday night’s meeting, it would authorize the council president to open bids again if the donor’s offer remained rescinded.
“Our president wants a closing date and soon,” he said. “That’s what we need.”
Several residents spoke during the public comment period and said they would donate as well as undertake fundraising efforts for the project so the town could purchase the property.
Ostrander said Wednesday’s meeting would remain open and a special Town Board meeting would be held on Tuesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 503 Geyser Road in Ballston Spa to continue discussions about Camp Boyhaven.