Philadelphia cuts deal with Boy Scouts over disputed building
A long standing feud between the city of Philadelphia and the local Boy Scouts council has been settled.
In return for the city paying $825,000 to the scouts, by the end of October the Cradle of Liberty Council will vacate its longtime headquarters in Philadelphia at 22nd and Winter Streets. It has been in the city-owned building rent free for decades.
Philadelphia City Solicitor Shelley Smith says the payment is not for legal fees incurred when the city tried to evict the scouts for barring gays from membership, but the deal does settle a judge's order to pay $877,000 in legal fees.
"They have occupied the building for many, many, many years and the terms of the agreement are that in recognition of the improvements that they have put in we will pay them that amount of money," said Smith.
"It's been going on for almost 10 years," said Tom Harrington, head of the Cradle of Liberty Council. "We felt it was in the best interest of our scouts to move forward so we're glad this is over."
Harrington says the scouts will now search for a new home for their administrative offices. The Council currently has offices in Wayne.
Last month national scout leadership proposed allowing gay boys to join the group, while continuing to ban openly homosexual adult leaders. The policy change comes nearly 13 years after the scouts won a case in the U.S. Supreme Court affirming their right as a private organization to prohibit gay members. That case centered on James Dale, who grew up in New Jersey and was serving as an adult leader when he was ousted for being gay.