Those wishing to save four Girl Scout camps in Northeast Iowa are being asked to donate funds for a pending lawsuit against the Girl Scout Council.
That lawsuit seeks an order from the Court allowing registered voting members of the Council to have a say on the issue of selling any camps owned by the Council.
In April, the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois approved a new "outdoor vision" plan.
1. There will be one centrally located and modernized (extended stay) residential camp established in New Liberty, currently Camp Conestoga.
2. Camp Tahigwa, Camp Little Cloud and Camp L-Tee-Ka will be adapted and primarily utilized for troop needs, day camps and short, overnight camps.
"On April 11, 2013, the Board voted to approve the "changed" property plan which, permits the Council to sell all camp land that is "not needed;" and to build a new "high-capacity" camp on a portion of the land we now know as Camp Conestoga. The technical wording of the most current property plan still allows the Council to sell all of its camps, if and when it decides that such land is "not needed," said Chris Costantakos, an attorney and Girl Scout supporter from Omaha, Neb.
"This is a call for your help with the current lawsuit involving Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa-Western Illinois to save the four Girl Scout camps from being sold."
The plaintiffs in the court case, -- Debby Stork, Kelly Gilhooly, Sherry O'Keefe, Lisa Tank and Michele Weber -- served discovery on the Council last spring.
They asked several questions and also requested the Council produce certain documents that relate to the issues of the case. The Council answered some of the questions, and objected to eight of nine of the requests for documents.
August 15, the plaintiffs' attorney took the oral deposition of Council CEO Diane Nelson. Trial is scheduled for January 21, 2014.
"At this point, the Council does not possess a clear or specific plan for the new 'outdoor center' to be built to replace Camp Conestoga, but is contracting with an architectural firm (David Dotson of Chicago) to design a master site plan. It appears that the Council has not yet made any determinations that land is 'not needed' at any of the four camps," said Constantakos.
"I know that many of you have already donated to help get this lawsuit off the ground. However, it takes quite a bit to keep the lawsuit going in terms of the costs and continuing attorney fees. The plaintiffs, who have been courageous enough to step forward for this cause, remain responsible for payment of the significant attorneys fees and costs in this action."
In an email sent out to the group Save Our Scout (SOS) Camps, Costantakos urged camp supports to donate whatever they can.
"If there is any way you can come up with another $50, $100, or whatever amount to help them defray the continuing cost of legal fees, they would be grateful. An easy way to donate is through PayPal, and the SOS Camps website (soscamps.weebly.com) has posted a link through which you can donate to help the lawsuit.
A bigger problem
The SOS website includes a map of the camps that have been put up for sale around the country, as well as summaries of some of the lawsuits pending in other states, seeking to save Girl Scout camps and keep them open. There are also copies of the pleadings filed in the Iowa lawsuit.
If successful, the case against GSEIWI would give members a voice and a vote as to whether any camps should be sold.