The Darien Boy Scouts and Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust will move forward with plans to build a new Scout Cabin at the current 140 West Avenue location. A statement released by the scouts said that the new cabin will address new FEMA requirements and structural issues with the existing building as well as meeting the growing needs of the organization.
The current Scout Cabin was built in 1998 to accommodate one Boy Scout troop of 60 Scouts and adult leadership. Today, it serves over 300 Darien youth through two Boy Scout troops, four Cub Scout packs. In addition, the Boy Scouts of America is opening Scout troops and Cub packs to girls, which will likely grow the program even further in the upcoming decade. The Scouts need more meeting and administrative space, as well as a modern technology infrastructure to best serve these programs.
“Darien is fortunate to be one of only a handful of communities in the United States with dedicated land and a Cabin reserved for use by local Scouts,” Joellyn Gray, a trustee for the Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust, said. “It is this stable home, along with a strong program and active volunteers, that has enabled Scouting to flourish in Darien for over 100 years, developing boys’ character, citizenship, and self-reliance, and helping more than 40 community organizations along the way.”
The cabin is also home to the STEM Venture Crew, a co-ed program for high school students who lead science, technology, engineering, and math education programs for elementary school students in Darien, Norwalk, and Stamford.
The Scout Cabin was built just 11 feet from Stony Brook. The organization said the current foundation is crumbling and requires major structural repair. The cabin faces major maintenance issues including a leaking roof and inadequate kitchen. Compounding the problem, new FEMA flood maps locate the current Scout Cabin at the high water mark of the 100 year floodplain, which will limit the Scouts’ investment and requiring costly flood-proofing.
After extensively evaluating all alternatives with architects, site developers, and environmental consultants, the organization determined that the cost of renovations and alterations to meet FEMA requirements would be on par with the cost of building a new, larger facility. To Scout leadership, building a new cabin, more favorably located on the site, was the only sensible path forward.
At least one neighbor to the property has expressed concerns about the size of the new cabin, which will expand the footprint from 5,000 to 9,000 square feet. They suggested the large building and additional parking were uncharacteristic of the neighborhood, and questioned the whether the Scouts could have considered another location for their activities. The neighbor specifically mentioned the organization’s tag sale as an example of how the Scouts activities had grown beyond the scale of the building, obstructing parking and increasing traffic along West Avenue for several days.
In 2017, the ASMT launched its fundraising campaign, “At Our Best – A Scouting-led Campaign for Darien,” to raise donations to purchase the neighboring property at 138 West Ave and construct a new Cabin on the combined site. The cabin design was developed by local award-winning architect, Scout parent and Eagle Scout, Chuck Hilton, and is intended to reflect the history and importance of Scouting as a 100-year-old institution in Darien.
“The ASMT is more than halfway towards its current capital campaign goal of $3 million, thanks to major gifts from the Darien Foundation, the McGraw Family Foundation, and the generosity of Darien residents, including those donating in honor of Eric Ferguson, a major supporter of the Darien Scouting program,” said Jay Shutts, ASMT President. “We are so grateful for the community’s continued support of Scouting.”
On July 11, 2018, the Architectural Review Board approved the new cabin design and materials. Building is expected to begin in Spring 2020.
For more information or if you are interested in joining the Darien Boy Scout program or donating to the cabin campaign, you can email [email protected] Donations (payable to The Andrew Shaw Memorial Trust, re: Capital Campaign) can also be sent to PO Box 2315, Darien, CT 06820.