Boy Scout Dispute Nearing Resolution
By: Jim McCaffrey , The Bulletin, 10/26/2007
The implication is the Boy Scouts may be able to stay in their headquarters while paying nominal rent if they can find language to adopt that conforms to city policy and is accepted by local and national leaders.
Philadelphia - Perhaps reacting to the avalanche of 150,000 emails supporting local Boy Scouts that nearly crashed the city's computers this week, word of an impending settlement hit City Council Thursday.
The city has told Boy Scouts' local Cradle of Liberty Council it must comply with city non-discrimination policies. The national organization does not allow openly homosexual members.
If the Cradle of Liberty Council cannot comply with city non-discrimination policies it has been told it must either pay market value rent of $200,000 a year to the city or abandon the city-owned Fairmount Park building the Boy Scouts built and have occupied since 1927.
City Council, the Street Administration and the Fairmount Park Board are unanimous in this demand.
Thursday, Councilman Jack Kelly introduced a resolution asking the city to give the Boy Scouts as much time as they need to find a new headquarters. The resolution also called on the city to reimburse the Scouts for improvements made to the building.
"It's an issue of fairness," Councilman Kelly argued to his colleagues. "They are being penalized for the policies of the national organization. I don't want to have to kick out an organization that keeps 40,000 kids off the streets."
Mr. Kelly then said he would withhold the resolution from an immediate vote.
"The cty solicitor and the local Boy Scouts both want a settlement agreement," he explained. "There have been meetings with both factions to settle this dispute."
Councilman Darrell Clarke, who introduced the legislation authorizing the imposition of rent on the local council, thanked Kelly for holding the resolution.
"I know where he is coming from," Councilman Clarke told his colleagues. "I continue to be optimistic some settlement can be worked out. It comes down to the interpretation of a couple of words."