Anadarko Petroleum gives boy scout troup a lesson they'll never forget.
By JENNIFER AVILLA,
The Beaumont Enterprise
WOODVILLE - With blotchy red eyes, 45-year-old Andy Dentremont, teared up Friday evening as he reminisced of a special trip he took to the Camp Urland last weekend with his two children. Together, they relived his time as a 10-year-old scout at the Boy Scouts of America Campground - an adventure that might never be repeated.
In a decision that might result in the closure of several facilities on the campground, a group of Tyler County special commissioners awarded $34,000 to the Three Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America for Springfield Pipeline LLC's acquisition of land for a pipeline right of way.
"It's devastating because the Scouts have no choice," Dentremont said. "We are going to have to shut down part of our camp because that pipeline is there and we shouldn't have to."
The hearing was held following the filing of a lawsuit charging the Three Rivers Council, the Southeast Texas governing body for Boy Scouts of America, with not agreeing to the land's fair market value price of the 4,550 foot stretch of land along the northern border of Camp Urland, located about two miles south of Woodville.
Springfield Pipeline, a subsidiary of Woodlands-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp., offered $3,694 for using eminent domain to acquire the 30-foot wide permanent easement that totals about 3.1 acres.
The Scouts contend the amount should be more than $410,000 for the land and damages the pipeline construction would cause to the property - including being forced to relocate several campground facilities to stay accredited with the national organization.
"If we're not accredited, we can't be insured and we have to close the camp," said Jack Crawford, Three Rivers Council of Boy Scouts of America executive. "If one of these areas does not meet mandatory requirements then it's closed."
The pipeline easement will remove many of the trees that currently serve as a barrier for the camp's rifle and shotgun ranges. Without the natural barrier, the ranges would have to relocate, according to the Scouts national guidelines. Additionally, the Scouts would have to relocate a campsite and build new road and water lines - all of which comes at a big price tag.
The camp, which provides an outdoor retreat for about 6,000 boys from about 10 counties, will have to be closed while the pipeline is constructed.
In the appraisal, the oil company contends that the value of the 715-acre campground decreased significantly after a storm damaged buildings in March. But when pressed as to whether the Boy Scouts should be compensated for the relocation of the facilities, the question was at first avoided.
"It looks like someone at the (Scouts) national organization needs to have more sense," said Ronnie Harris, the oil company's appraiser who was paid $750 by the company for his testimony Friday.
The Boy Scouts filed a motion for continuance, but the judge did not show up or call to rule on the motion.
"When we asked for a few more days, they refused and madeus do it and the judge wasn't there," Crawford said. "They are just rushing it through."
The commissioners took only five minutes to make the decision after three-and-a-half hours of testimony and, at times, heated cross examinations by Springfield's lawyer, Michael Jancek.
After Jancek pressed Glenn Cummings, Boy Scout executive board member, about the damages to the property, Cummings asked the lawyer if he was ever a Scout, bringing laughter from the audience of about 25 Scouts. The lawyer avoided the question and then admitted he had been a Cub Scout.
At one point, Jancek, in his well-pressed suit, glared from about a foot away at Crawford, wearing his traditional beige Scout uniform, as they argued repetitiously about the relocation of the firing range. As the testimony went on, he started with a barrage of questions as to whether Crawford has ever been angry with the oil company or ever cursed or yelled at the company's employees. Commissioners quickly intervened and ended to the questioning for a recess.
For Dentremont, the decision was devastating.
"How am I going to keep these boys safe," he asked. "Do I even bring them back? I felt like the oil company was approaching this as a hardball negotiation for the taking of land without taking concern with the purpose of the land."
Next week, crews will start construction on the pipeline, which is completed up to the border of the campground. The Scouts plan to appeal the decision.
On Thursday, Anadarko's shareholders approved a 2 for 1 split of the stock. The stock was down 4.04 Friday closing at 106.71.
© 2006 The Beaumont Enterprise: