Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Cochegan Rock Property: Part I

Feather News
Updated to reflect the statement from the tribe's chief of staff, Chuck Bunnell.

The Tribe's annual Wigwam Festival this year celebrated the purchase of the property that contains Cochegan Rock, a large boulder on top of which Uncas is said to have held meetings with his councilors.

Cochegan Rock was proclaimed the largest free-standing boulder in New England after it was measured in the 1870s by Harvard University scientists.

The rock's strategic location probably afforded Mohegans a view of their village at Fort Shantock. Much of that view is obscured today due to trees but, standing on the rock, one can still see the treeline on the opposite (east) bank of the Thames River.

The Cochegan Rock property was originally donated to the Boy Scouts by William F. Becker, Louis Becker and David Becker in memory of their parents, Nathan Becker and Ida E. Becker. The Boy Scouts in turn sold it to the Mohegan Tribe last year. The deed states that the land shall never be made a part of the Tribe's Reservation.

According to the deed of July 2, 2007, the property shall be known as "Mohegan Becker Cochegan Rock Memorial Scout Reservation" and the Boy Scouts are permitted to use the property for scouting purposes as long as they maintain liability insurance ($3 million per occurance and $5 million total).

The 2007 deed says the Tribe is responsible for erecting two memorials that are to be dedicated to the Becker family. According to the deed, "(one of the memorials) ... shall be erected on the property and a similar memorial shall be placed on or near the main building or near the main building or recreational hall, whenever or wherever such building may hereafter be erected on the property. Said memorials shall be permanently maintained in good condition and repair."

The deed does not say which party is responsible for building the recreational facility for the Boy Scouts.

The Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut (Montville tax ID P0188100) purchased the 93.61-acre property on July 2, 2007 from the Connecticut Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The Pequot Council of the Boy Scouts of America (which has since merged with the Connecticut Rivers Council of the BSA) bought the property on March 16, 1963. The property's address, according to Montville Town Hall records, is Raymond Hill Road Rear (map 40, lot 6).

The appraised value of the property is $354,990 and the Tribe's annual tax assessment on the property is currently $7,455. The last assessment by the town of Montville was done in October 2007.

The deed states that the Boy Scouts sold it to the Tribe for ten dollars ($10) and other "good and valuable consideration paid by (the Tribe), the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged (by the Boy Scouts)." According to the tribe's chief of staff, Chuck Bunnell, the Tribe agreed to donate $200,000 for five years to the Boy Scouts, for a grand total donation of $1 million.

Besides the sacred boulder, other sites near the boulder are the brook (Stony Brook) and an old cemetery (Baker Cemetery).