Community Continues to Support Deer Lake Effort

Clark Judge, January 13, 2023

When a local nonprofit bought Deer Lake from the Boy Scouts last year for $4.75 million, it promised to preserve and protect the 255-acre property as open space. But it also promised to continue its fundraising efforts to retire $1.8 million in loans.

It’s keeping both pledges.

Pathfinders, Inc., the nonprofit that owns Deer Lake, revealed that two local entities recently contributed $27,500 in grants to help pay off two low-interest loans. One is from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC), which donated $25,000. The other is from the Connecticut Water Company, which made a $2,500 contribution.

“We are grateful for the additional funds as we work to pay down our debt,” said Pathfinders’ president Ted Langevin. “Each donation gets us closer to that goal. We thank both the Connecticut Water Company and the Middlesex Community Foundation for supporting our efforts to preserve this important part of the watershed feeding Long Island Sound and efforts to maintain our 255 acres as recreational space.

Since buying Deer Lake on Sept. 16, Pathfinders has raised approximately $85,000 from several sources: 1) Fundraising events such as an Oct. 30 open house at Deer Lake and a December appearance at the town’s Waste Transfer Station, 2) individual donations and 3) grants.

The CFMC grant of $25,000 was made possible by the Mary Janvrin and Natalie Janvrin Wiggins Fund for Birds, Other Animals and Nature within the foundation. The sisters shared a life-long passion for nature, particularly birds, and established the fund to preserve and protect waterways and wildlife habitats for the county’s ecosystem.

Deer Lake was a perfect fit.

However, the grant was something of “a surprise,” said CFMC president and CEO Cynthia Clegg, in that it was made without an application. Normally, that doesn’t happen. But as part of the CFMC’s 25th anniversary, it was a unique move CFMC embraced to celebrate the sisters’ wishes and Pathfinders’ work to keep Deer Lake from private development.

“We try to closely follow the needs and issues in our region,” Clegg said. “We also try to provide assistance from donors’ funds that match donor/intent purpose the need in the community. The Janvrin sisters’ fund aligned with the Deer Lake initiative. It is CMFC’s responsibility to steward the funds judiciously, (and) I know the Janvrin sisters would be pleased with this grant.”

Connecticut Water’s donation was funded by its Charitable Giving Committee through the Connecticut Neighborhood Assistance Act, a tax credit program designed to provide funding for municipal and tax-exempt organizations. The money will not be recovered by rates passed on to customers.

“Although the Deer Lake property does not impact our Killingworth or Kelseytown Reservoir watershed, it was all about conservation and preservation of a place that offers so much to the surrounding area,” said Denise Poole, Connecticut Water’s Capital Planning Manager. “We knew it would likely be developed into another subdivision, and that would have been a loss to passive recreation options enjoyed by the community – and yet another encroachment on the wildlife that calls Deer Lake home.

“Our support of Deer Lake reflects our commitment to being a force for good in the communities we serve, and we have both customers and water sources in Killingworth. We support the preservation of open space and good stewardship of the natural environment, which is important to Connecticut Water and its employees. The effort to raise funds to purchase the property was truly a successful grassroots effort.”

Connecticut Water provides water service to more than 350,000 customers in 60 Connecticut communities, as well as waste water service to 10,000 people in Southbury.