Camp Hope trial under way

By DeeAnna Haney | May 07, 2013
Photo by: Vicki Hyatt Canton Alderman Ed Underwood, left, chats with Canton Town Manager Al Matthews at a recent event to raise awareness about Camp Hope.

A jury in the civil battle over the future of Camp Hope was selected Tuesday afternoon, and the five-men, seven- women group will determine the fate of Canton’s historic property.

Town leaders are fighting to keep about 100 acres that has been open and free to the community since 1926.

An Asheville couple is seeking to obtain the property after receiving reverter rights when they purchased a tract of land adjacent to Camp Hope in 2006.

The plaintiffs claim the town has not used the property as dictated by the rules set forth in the original deed for the land, which stated “the town will not operate on the property a summer camp primarily for the benefit of residents of other areas and states.”

They say Wellspring Adventure Camp, a summer weight loss camp that leased the property, allowed mostly out of town children attend camp, therefore violating the deed.

They also claim that by allowing Wellspring  primary use of the facilities during summer months, the town restricted the public’s use of the property, another violation of the deed.

But town leaders say the property has always been open to the public, even during the summer months when Wellspring Adventure Camp was using the main facilities.

Town leaders fear that if the property that includes mountains, flat land and riverfront areas falls under private ownership, it will no longer be open to the public.

Canton Mayor Mike Ray, Town Manager Al Matthews and Assistant Town Manager Jason Burrell were all in attendance Monday to watch the beginning of what’s expected to be a week-long trial.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge David Lee, out of Union County, is presiding over the trial.