Boy Scouts in Cayuga County may be reporting to a Boy Scouts of America council in a neighboring county in the future instead of the Cayuga County Council, even though no merger took place.

The national council did not renew the Cayuga County Council's charter when it expired June 30, Director of the Northeast Area Steven Smith said this week. The national organization no longer recognizes the council and directed the regional branch to reassign all of the scouting units to the Hiawatha Seaway Council, which currently serves the counties of Jefferson, Lewis, Onondaga, Oswego and St. Lawrence.

In essence, the national organization usurped the Cayuga County Council's authority. The council's board of directors tabled a resolution to merge with Hiawatha Seaway during a special meeting June 25 and did not establish a date for another vote. Hiawatha Seaway's board had already approved a merger during its meeting June 10 by a vote of 32-1.

The regional council called for a merger because the Cayuga County Council has too few units, Smith said. An approval from both councils to merge would have provided a seamless process for the disillusionment of the Cayuga County Council, he added.

But it appears that did not happen. In a transaction filed with the county last week, Charles Bouley Jr., Michael Ferro and Walter Love, listed as trustees, took ownership of the headquarters at 7235 Mutton Hill Road, Sennett, acquiring it from the council for $1.

The 1.98 acre property, purchased for $195,000 in October 2004, is assessed at $251,700.

When a merger was on the table, Hiawatha Executive Director and Scout Executive Rich Avery said the building would not only remain open, but have extended hours as it would continue to operate with additional staff. Plans were also in the works to stock the center with supplies, books and badges from the Hiawatha Seaway Council's consignment shop.

Even though the merger didn't pan out, Smith said, the office would continue to operate, though it may close for some time. Regarding the real estate transaction, he said, “We're working through some things right now,” but gave no specifics.

Cayuga County Council board President Don Beardsley said there is a “legal question” regarding the council and that a band of people are working on establishing their own council, but he would not comment further because of “legal implications.” Beardsley deferred to Bill Jennings for additional information. Jennings did not return numerous phone calls to his home in the last several weeks.

Bouley and Ferro have both declined to comment on the matter and Love could not be reached.

The uncertainty surrounding local scouting is affecting other agencies, as well.

To augment scouting, the Cayuga County United Way provided the Cayuga County Council with $61,500 paid in monthly installments. Executive Director Gail Homick said about half of the allocation has already been paid out. Once the United Way is officially notified of the change, its fund distribution committee will discuss the next steps.

Homick said the United Way could provide Hiawatha Seaway with those funds “if there is an agreement that those dollars come back to our community.”

Staff writer Alyssa Sunkin can be reached at 253-5311 ext. 239 or alyssa.sunkin@lee.net

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