- Associated Press - Monday, October 24, 2016

RICHMOND, Mass. (AP) - There’s finally a buyer for Camp Marion White on Swamp Road, and the new owner is planning to build a single-family home on the property, according to Town Administrator Mark Pruhenski.

Almost a year after voters rejected an offer to borrow funding to turn the 50-acre parcel into a municipal park, the former Girl Scout camp on Richmond Pond has been sold to a couple with regional ties for $1.35 million.

Richard and Patricia Levy, who have addresses in Chaddsford, Pa. and Canaan, N.Y., recently purchased the parcel from the Girls Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts Inc. of Holyoke, according to documents on file at the Middle Berkshire Registry of Deeds in Pittsfield.

Attempts to reach the Levys were unsuccessful. But Pruhenski said the Conservation Commission recently granted the couple permission to construct a single-family home on the site.

Pruhenski said he believes the Levys’ purchase and sales agreement for the property was contingent on the board’s approval.

According to town documents, the Levys are planning to build a four bedroom, 4,000-square-foot home on the former camp property. The Conservation Commission granted the couple permission to clear small trees and brush within Richmond Pond’s 100-foot buffer zone.

The property consists of two parcels: a 29-acre lot off Swamp Road near the Pittsfield town line and a 21 acre lot across the street known as the Beaver Dam Parcel, which includes wetlands.

The Levys are planning to donate 19 acres of those wetlands on the other side of Swamp Road to the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Pruhenski said,

“We’ve had conversations with them already,” he said referring to the Audubon Society.

Last year, Richmond voters were asked to consider a measure that would allow the town to borrow $1.5 million to buy and upgrade the former Girl Scout camp into a municipal park. Approval of the measure would have allowed the town to finalize a $1.375 million purchase and sales agreement with the Girl Scouts.

But the measure, which required a two-thirds majority for approval, was rejected by 33 votes last November in the largest town meeting vote in Richmond in 15 years.

If the town couldn’t turn the former camp into a park. Pruhenski said, residents view the Levys’ proposal as the next best option.

“I don’t want to speak on behalf of the town,” Pruhenski said. “But in the conversations I’ve had with town officials they’ve all said this is the second-best option for preserving the land and not developing it.

“I think everyone is pretty relieved and satisfied by the outcome,” he said.

The Girl Scouts, which purchased the camp property from the Women’s Club of Pittsfield in 1952, originally put it on the market in 2014 when the organization decided to divest itself of properties whose usage was limited. The scouts began using the property in 1939 when it was a day camp run by Marion White.

Suzanne Smiley, the chief operating officer for the regional Girl Scouts Council, did not return a call seeking comment. The regional council has 8,500 girls and 4,100 adult members who live in 186 municipalities in six state counties.

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Information from: The Berkshire (Mass.) Eagle, http://www.berkshireeagle.com

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