Scout reserve amendment would boost state

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — West Virginia took great pride as the Boys Scouts of America unveiled its world-class outdoor adventure facility near the New River Gorge in 2013.

The Summit Bechtel Reserve opened in time to host the National Jamboree that July with more than 35,000 scouts, leaders and volunteers attending for 10 days. The new facility got rave reviews for both the natural outdoor recreation features for hiking and whitewater rafting, but also for the state-of-the-art facilities built for skateboarding, BMX bikes, zip lines, shooting and archery. The reserve also has a stadium with a capacity for 80,000 people.

The first mission of the facility is to host the National Jamboree every four years and to provide other scouting opportunities each summer. This summer, more than 4,000 scouts visited the reserve for activities, and organizers hope to triple that next summer, according to Gary Hartley, director of communications and governmental affairs for the facility. The reserve also will host the World Scout Jamboree in 2019.

But there are opportunities to do more.

Officials at the reserve have seen interest from organizations that might want to rent some of the facilities to hold national sports competitions, concerts or other types for events. However, under state law, doing so would jeopardize the reserve’s non-profit property tax exemption…

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