Former Great Valley Youth Camp to become town recreation area

Travis Baugh, a retired businessman from Great Valley stands in front of the former Great Valley Youth Camp classrooms. He bought the 10-acre site and plans to demolish the buildings and turn it into a recreational site and donate it to the town of Great Valley.

GREAT VALLEY — It has been more than a decade since the Great Valley Youth Camp closed.

A retired businessman from Texas who now lives down Mutton Hollow Road from the former residential youth facility for boys purchased it from the state several years ago.

Travis Baugh, who worked in the pharmaceutical, medical devices and oil and gas industries, and his wife moved to Great Valley about 15 years ago.

“I bid on it to make sure that nothing bad for the community got the property,” Baugh said Friday.

“It had been in mothballs,” Baugh said. “I tried to interest the Boy Scouts and some church groups, but nothing came of it.”

Now, Baugh plans to demolish all the buildings on the property, make some upgrades and donate it to the town of Great Valley for use as a recreational facility. The land is adjacent to the McCarty Hill State Forest.

“I was talking to Supervisor Dan Brown and told him I planned to donate it to the town,” Baugh said.

Brown’s response, he said, was to point out that the concrete pad from the camp’s gymnasium would make a nice ice skating and hockey rink.

Before any of that can happen, there are several buildings that have to be demolished — classrooms, offices and dormitories. Two garages and the gym have been demolished so far.

A Jamestown company, JJ Abatement, is removing asbestos from the remaining buildings and Tabone Construction, also of Jamestown, will demolish and remove any debris that cannot be disposed of onsite.

“I’m going to demolish all the buildings, level out the site and put down topsoil and then donate it to the town,” Baugh said. “It’s quite an investment, but it’s going to be worth it.”

The 10-acre site will be put to a great recreational use.

Baugh plans to timber an adjacent 33-acre tract he owns to help pay for the project. The resulting logging roads will make great cross country skiing trails, he said. Eventually, he plans to donate that acreage to the town as well.

Baugh said once the buildings are demolished, he’ll bring the members of the town board to the site “to noodle over” what to do with the property. He said he wants some input from some professional park planners too.

“Before the state left, they cleared some property out back for a sledding hill,” Baugh said. There’s no reason it couldn’t be used for a sledding hill again, he added.

Besides an improved, ready-for-use recreation site, Baugh said he wants to leave a fund for future use. “All they’ll have to do is plow the road and mow grass.”

Brown is very excited about the project Baugh is proposing. “It’s quite an undertaking.”

Both Brown and Baugh are aware of the importance of the former Youth Camp — to both the boys who spent time there and the employees including teacher and counselors, office and maintenance staff.

“We have thoughts of a memorial with a plaque representing the young men that hopefully changed their lives there,” Brown said.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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