By Michelle Pelletier Marshall
---- — ROWLEY — The Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts is selling the nearly 207-acre parcel at 390 Wethersfield St., which they have owned for more than 50 years.
The Girl Scout property Camp Paradise at 44 Cole St. in Beverly, a 12-acre parcel, is also for sale.
Barbara Fortier, chief operations officer for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, said this week that the board of directors approved proceeding with the sale at a June 27 meeting after two years of carefully analyzing the organization’s properties. The group has 27 properties: 24 in Massachusetts and three in New Hampshire.
Fortier said that the first choice for these properties is to have the land protected.
“We plan to talk to the towns with hope of getting all or some of the properties declared as conservation land, a process that we expect will take at least 18-24 months,” she added. “We have an enormous amount of work ahead of us as we are just beginning the process of what to do with these properties.”
Fortier said that with any agreement reached on these parcels, the Girl Scouts would request an inclusion of a covenant that would allow the organization to use the property for passive use going forward. In addition to its buildings, the property includes access to hiking trails and playing fields.
The Wethersfield location has not been used for Girl Scout activities for more than three years because “the usage was off,” said Fortier.
Fortier said that the goal of operating the Girl Scout properties is to sustain and maintain them for the greatest use by the Scouts, and that the Rowley and Beverly properties were not being utilized in that way, which was key to the decision to place them up for sale.
The Rowley property had been in operation since the early 1960s as a camp for hundreds of the more than 40,000 young girls that the organization serves across the state and in New Hampshire in 178 communities.
An asking price has not been set for the Wethersfield Street property, as it will be determined as talks begin with the local towns on conservation and open space possibilities.
According to town records, the Rowley property is valued at $1,363,900.
Neither Brent Baeslack, Rowley’s conservation agent, nor Bob Snow, chairman of the Rowley Board of Selectmen, has been contacted by the Girl Scouts regarding the property, though Baeslack said he had heard the property was going to be put up for sale.
Baeslack said he has walked the 390 Wethersfield St. property before and that it includes some wetlands, as the Batchelder Brook runs through it, and some dry upland woods.
“Looking at it through an environmental lens, there would be a lot of hurdles to overcome for development,” he said. “Hopefully there are some opportunities there for protection and preservation.”
Both he and Snow said they were open to discussions with the Girl Scouts on the possible uses of the property by the town.