Saturday, February 1, 2003

Supporters lead effort to keep camp

Girl Scouts upset about possible sale

By Jon Gambrell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD TWP. - Girl Scout leaders and volunteers are upset over the possible sale of Camp Timber Hill for residential development.

The 57-acre camp, off Ohio 4 near Liberty-Fairfield Road, is near several residential developments in this Butler County township. After being contacted by Dixon Builders, the Great Rivers Girl Scout Council met last month to discuss a possible sale.

Upset at the prospect of losing their only nearby camp, leaders in southern Butler County organized a January meeting that drew more than 100 volunteers, Girl Scouts and parents, most opposed to the sale.

Patti McDonald , a leader with the Fairfield-based Northstar Girl Scout unit, is helping lead the effort to keep the camp. She was among participants in the Dec. 15 meeting on "potential action that might affect the camp" with Barbara Bonifasand Susan Osborne of the Great Rivers Council.

McDonald said the Scout leaders were told Dixon Builders made an unsolicited bid of more than $1 million for the property. Dixon Builders of Hamilton declined to comment.

Melissa Wisby, public relations manager for Great Rivers Council, said a decision hasn't been made on the sale.

She added that the board had asked for confidentiality from the participants in the December meeting.

Supporters of the sale say residential growth around the camp raises concerns about privacy and security for Girl Scout camping, besides the loss of a quiet natural setting. Owners of adjacent land have sold or are considering sales.

For example, Margaret Lammert, who owns more than 60 acres next to Camp Timber Hill, said recently that she has sold her property to a developer she declined to identify.

If the camp were sold, Girl Scouts would have to travel to Camp Butterworth in Maineville in Warren County, said John Lawson, a four-year volunteer with the Girl Scouts.

But the loss of the camp would cause more than inconvenience. For many of the Northstar girls, Timber Hill provided the opportunity to do volunteer work. McDonald's 18-year-old daughter, for instance, cut trails as part of her gold award project.

"The girls have done a lot of work there," Lawson said. , "Minimum maintenance goes to Timber Hill, and the girls take pride in ownership."

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