By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
HOLLY HILL -- If fighting city hall earns merit badges, boys in Cub Scout Pack 3054 might get them.
At its Tuesday, Feb. 12, meeting, the City Commission got an earful from Cub Master Melissa Martin, pack members and supporters upset City Manager Jim McCroskey started charging $15 an hour to use a city building at Hollyland Park, 1064 Ridgewood Ave. The scouts had used the facility free of charge since April 2010. The pack had been paying $80 a month at Sica Hall before then.
"We can't pay rent," Ms. Martin said in a phone interview after the commission meeting. "We're a small pack."
Mr. McCroskey, who was an avid Boy Scout in his childhood, said he looked into a lease giving the pack use of the building signed by the previous city manager. He found out it wasn't approved by the City Commission, making it void.
"Unfortunately, you have to go by the rules," he said in an interview after the meeting. "I'm told by the commission to rent city property at a price."
The issue came up during public comments at the meeting. It sharply divided commissioners on how to handle the situation. Commissioner Penny Currie said newspaper archives show the local American Legion and others pitched in to build the facility for the Boy Scouts around 1950. That, she said, precluded charging the pack to use it.
"That was built to be their building," she said. "The documentation tells me it's their building."
Commissioner Donnie Moore, however, said a lot of years have passed, the scouts moved out at some point and the building has long been a city facility kept up by taxpayers.
"To me it is about equality," he said at the meeting. "We have an ordinance on this issue. We have rules and regulations we go by in the city."
However, Mr. Moore said what's to become of space at the old Holly Hill Middle School is undecided. He told Ms. Martin and others that a permanent free or low-cost space could be found there. It would be several months before the Scouts cold use any space at the old school, if at all.
"I will fight for you to have a place at those 25 acres," Mr. Moore said. "It won't end here for me. I think you need to have your own place at the 25 acres."
Commission members directed Mr. McCroskey to negotiate a lease with the pack and bring it back at a later meeting for approval. Mayor Roy Johnson, Commissioner John Penny and Mr. Moore said they'd pay the building usage fees for the pack until a new lease was readied, approved and signed.
Ms. Martin and Mr. McCroskey met on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to discuss a lease. Ms. Martin requested a 20-year lease at the building in Hollyland Park for $1 a year. Mr. McCroskey offered the pack a $15-a-month lease for the building with at least the first two years paid for by an unidentified benefactor. Mayor Johnson verified he was the proposed benefactor.
"I told him if he could get it to $15 a month, I'd pay it for two years," the mayor said in a phone interview after that meeting. "I want to help them out best we can, but I want it on a legal basis."
Mayor Johnson wasn't at the meeting with Ms. Martin and Mr. McCroskey. Ms. Martin declined the offer.
"It's $180 a year, which doesn't benefit the city, but it hurts the pack," she said in an interview after the meeting. "So, it's back to fighting city hall."
About 30 elementary school-aged lads are members of Pack 3054. About 20 regularly show for meetings, Ms. Martin said. The next closest pack is 3055, which meets at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1125 Sixth St., Daytona Beach. Both are members of the Central Florida Council.