A First District judge could determine this week whether it is legal for the Boy Scouts Inland Northwest Council to exchange a historic Boy Scout camp on Lake Coeur d'Alene in a land swap.
Judge John Luster will hold a hearing Tuesday over the lawsuit against the INC, filed by an organization of Camp Easton proponents who believe the proposal to exchange it in a trade with a developer is illegal.
"We're trying to achieve the final answer," said Tom Little, member of Camp Easton Forever, Inc. "We've got a great legal team. I truly believe they're going to make the judge see the truth."
Camp Easton Forever has requested a summary judgment in which the court declares that camp property is a charitable trust, which can't be sold or traded to a developer.
According to the memorandum supporting the group's motion for summary judgment, the initial land donated for the camp by F.W. Fitze in 1929 was conditioned to always be used for that purpose, which gives it trust status.
The document alludes to minutes of a '29 meeting with the Boy Scouts Idaho Panhandle Council where Fitze indicated his hopes for a permanent camp.
The plaintiffs are also requesting the judge order to halt the land swap proposed by Discovery Land Company, and that judgment be provided before the deal goes through.
"The court must intervene and rule to prevent irreparable harm," the document states.
Little said he was confident about the argument's strength.
"It wasn't our decision, it was Mr. Fitze's decision," said Little, a former Camp Easton ranger. "He made that decision 82, 83 years ago and we need to respect that."
The INC has also filed a motion for summary judgment, asking for the court to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaints.
The INC's memorandum supporting its motion denies the validity of the meeting minutes where Fitze discussed the property's future.
The minutes were not incorporated into Fitze's deed for the property, the memorandum states, nor were the minutes signed by Fitze.
"According to the plain meaning of the Fitze deed, no trust was created," the document reads.
The deed grants fee simple title to the INC, the memorandum also states.
"The defendants are using Camp Easton, and there is no restriction prohibiting the Boy Scouts from trading the property to acquire a new Boy Scout camp," the document states.
Tim McCandless, scout executive for the INC, could not be reached for comment.
Under Discovery Land Company's proposal, Discovery would gain ownership of the 383 acres of Camp Easton property, if the developer first purchases 270 acres at Sunup Bay and builds an alternative camp there.
Discovery would also provide a $2.5 million endowment for maintenance of Boy Scout camps.
Both of INC's executive and foundation boards have voted to pursue a purchase option agreement with the Arizona developer.
The court hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in Judge Luster's courtroom in the courthouse on Garden Avenue in Coeur d'Alene.
Camp Easton Forever has sent out a mass email prompting scouts to attend the hearing in uniform, to show support for keeping the camp at its current location on Gotham Bay.
If a summary motion isn't granted, the suit will go to trial.
Attorney Scott Reed, representing Camp Easton Forever, said hearings for summary judgment do pose an additional benefit.
"Even if the party or parties lose the summary judgment, it's made the court well acquainted with the position, which sometimes wouldn't have happened until later in the case," he said.