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Deer Lake Purchase to Be Finalized This Week

By Clark Judge

(September 14, 2022) —One year after it was listed for sale, the Deer Lake Scout Reservation is expected to be purchased this week by a local nonprofit dedicated to keeping the property as open space.

In a statement released on September 14, 2022, Pathfinders, Inc. said it will hold a news conference at Deer Lake on Friday, September 16th at 10:00 a.m. to announce the acquisition of the property from the Connecticut Yankee Council (CYC) of the Boy Scouts of America for $4.75 million.

That deal exceeds an earlier offer of $4.625 million by Fortitude Capital, a private developer whose proposal was tentatively accepted in February by the CYC. According to the statement, the Pathfinders proposal includes $3 million in contributions from donors in 87 Connecticut towns, 34 states and four countries, with the remainder in low-interest loans.

A closing is expected on Thursday, September 15th.

“The heroes of this story,” said Pathfinders president Ted Langevin, “are the more than 1,300 donors who already have contributed over $3 million toward the purchase. We are also grateful to two private lenders who extended low-interest loans. We are now looking to raise $1.8 million to quickly repay the loans. We will then take the next steps to ensure that this open space is permanently preserved “

The Pathfinders announcement ends a six-month push by the group to keep Deer Lake from private development. Until February of this year, it had supported efforts by another nonprofit, the Trust for Public Land, to acquire the Deer Lake property. But TPL’s offer of $2.4 million — based on an appraisal of the property — was rebuffed by the CYC, which then accepted an offer by Fortitude that was nearly twice that of TPL.

But the deal was tentative, the CYC announced in a news release. The decision was not final, it said, with the CYC accepting offers exceeding that figure until March 31st, a deadline later pushed to May 1st. That’s when Pathfinders stepped in, launching an ambitious fundraising campaign that produced immediate results.

The rest you know.

“This is nothing but good news,” Killingworth First Selectwoman Nancy Gorski said when notified of the Friday news conference, “not only for Pathfinders, but for the town of Killingworth and its residents, as well.”

The Deer Lake story attracted national attention over the last year. The Washington Post, USA Today, Associated Press, National Public Radio were among media outlets that followed it, and it was the subject of local newscasts by WFSB, FOX 61. WTNH and WVIT. It also had the support of politicians, with Gorski, state Sen. Christine Cohen, state Rep. Christine Goupil and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal appearing at a news conference this past January to support Deer Lake’s preservation.

All are expected to appear at the September 16th news conference.

In response to Pathfinders’ announcement, Save the Sound – which has supported the protection of Deer Lake — issued a statement calling the agreement between Pathfinders and the CYC “a victory for land conservation and for every citizen of Connecticut.”

“Conserving this land will preserve some of Connecticut’s great natural resources,” said Dave Anderson of Save the Sound, “including forest, streams and Deer Lake itself. Protecting some of Connecticut’s last remaining contiguous forest land from development helps keep intact the natural habitat of wildlife, from bobcats to thrushes.

“In addition it protects all of us because this undisturbed forest captures pollutants and cools stream water before it reaches Long Island Sound.  We commend Pathfinders, who did a tremendous job of shepherding this property to a conservation solution with a remarkable grassroots fundraising campaign.”

 

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