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Hudson Valley Council and Camp Bullowa trust fund fued

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STONY POINT,NY - A legal battle over who controls the purse strings of the $3.1 million endowment for Camp Bullowa has brought nearly all repairs to a standstill at the Boy Scout site.



Ralph Heavner, who accompanied Olori inside the camp’s Dignman Cabin, said the endowment remains locked as his lawsuit against Hudson Valley Council, Boy Scouts of America continues.


Heavner, a trustee for the trust fund, filed the lawsuit last year to recoup $500,000 that the Camp Bullowa endowment agreed to loan the council in 2003.

The council stopped making payments on the loan in 2013. After he filed the lawsuit, Heavner said he was dismissed from his position on the Hudson Valley Council executive board.


The Hudson Valley Council oversees more than 7,000 Scouts in the region, according to its website.


The lawsuit was also brought by the two other Bullowa endowment trustees, Edwin Ward and Thomas Condon, as well as the Emilie M. Bullowa Memorial Endowment of Camp Bullowa.


The lawsuit was filed against Howard Hellman, president of the council; David Horton, scout executive for the council; William Poole, executive vice president of the council; and the council itself.


lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in New City, the council was “facing financial failure" at the time of the loan.

The loan marked the first time funds from the endowment were used for purposes other than maintenance of the camp.

There remains $426,000 outstanding on the loan, according to court papers.



Heavner described the lawsuit as a final defense for the camp.


“We are not going to go down without a fight,†he said.


The lawsuit over who can access the trust fund and what the money can be used for is the first time the endowment has been tested since it was created in 1949, Heavner said.


The camp is maintained using approximately $140,000 a year from interest raised from the trust fund, Heavner said.


Heavner said the the council has also has attempted to remove him, Ward and Condon as trustees of the endowment and appoint new trustees, which violates the trust.


If the council does not repay the loan and is permitted to dip into the endowment in the future, Heavner said there would be no stopping the council from whittling down the endowment for any number of purposes unrelated to the camp and it would eventually be depleted.


“You sell a few acres here, you sell a few acres there, and before you know it, it’s gone,†Heavner said.

Hellman said the camp will never be sold.


"Unequivocally, there is and never has been any intentions, any discussions about selling the camp," Hellman said. "That will always remain a camp. That will always remain in the ownership of the Hudson Valley Council who runs the camp."


The lawsuit is seeking the Hudson Valley Council repay the $426,000 still owed on the loan, $110,000 in fees and interest, and clarity over how trustees are appointed and removed, among other things.


Fight on Trustees and Scouters.

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Hard to say much without knowing what the Trust documents say.  It would be interesting to know what the $500,000 was used for.  That's not the kind of money you borrow to patch a hole in your budget, it's more likely to be some sort of capital improvement.  Which if it was say a building or pool at the camp might be within the bounds of the Trust to have purchased rather than just loaned.

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Newspaper account


"Every organization has its internal politics, but you might not expect the Boy Scouts Hudson Valley Council and Camp Bullowa Trust Fund to top the list of intrigue. Yet, it’s up there at the moment.


Camp Bullowa of Stony Point was bequeathed a trust 73 years ago and that trust has grown to nearly $4 million over the decades. The trust clearly states all monies are to be used solely for Camp Bullowa and entrusts three trustees with keeping that promise.

Camp Bullowa itself, however, is owned by the Boy Scouts of America Hudson Valley Council and its chairman Howard Hellman, better known for being CEO of All Bright Electric, and executive director David Horton, as well as a majority of the Hudson Valley Council would like to see those $3.8M in funds reevaluated. The Council has been having difficult financial times.

Back in 2003 the Council actually borrowed $500,000 from the Bullowa Trust, and for about a decade continued to make minimal payments, never paying down the loan itself but keeping up with interest.

Then the Council stopped paying. Hellman and allies attempted to negotiate a new deal with the Bullowa Trust trustees, who are led by local  attorney Ralph Heavner. When that failed, the Council continued not to pay and eventually Heavner filed a legal action against the Boy Scout Council.

This amazed the Council, who in turn have made moves to have the Trust trustees removed from their positions. In that event it seems the Council has other ideas for the $3.8 million besides what the Trust Fund’s mission statement indicates.

There is no clear procedure laid out for how to elect new trustees to the Bullowa Trust, so if the Hudson Valley Council should get allies in those trustee positions, they could in reality fund other parts of the Boy Scout operation with Bullowa Trust’s money.

A judge upheld Heavner’s request for a stay on his removal as trustee, as all prior trustees had simply died or retired and there never had been a power struggle litigated before over the Trust. No precedent. The fate of the Trust lay in the court’s hands. If the HV Council appoints their allies to the Bullowa Trust, expect to see that money spread around the entire Hudson Valley."


The council is seeking to give the camp property to some sort of nature conservation group.  And the camp program?


The trust presumably cannot force the council to operate the camp.  That means meeting the purpose of the trust ails.    I wonder what reversion clause, if any, is in the trust document.

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