So were the individuals.
It turns out that Mercaldo and Ted Langevin, chairman of Pathfinders, knew each other. They first met in 2010 when they helped build lean-tos at Deer Lake for a Cub Scouts’ venture that eventually fizzled. But the two hadn’t been in touch since, with Mercaldo conceding that he was unaware of Langevin’s involvement with fundraising for Deer Lake until he phoned him.
“It’s funny,” he said. “I had almost forgotten who he was. I saw the literature (on Pathfinders) and said, ‘I’ve got to reach out to this guy Ted.’ And as I started to type his email address and it came up in my outlook as Ted Langevin with all his contact info, I said, ‘Wait a minute, this is the guy who was organizing all the work parties at Deer Lake that I worked with every weekend for all those years.’ It had been 12 years since I had seen him. So I reached out to him, and after I did, I thought: Maybe these guys have a shot.”
Mercaldo’s offer followed one made earlier by Don Vaccaro, CEO of Ticket Network. He approached Pathfinders in March with an unsolicited $1.3-million loan that elevated the group’s fundraising total to a figure just shy of $4.3 million – a total that provoked Pathfinders to make an offer in late March that was rejected.
Enter Mercaldo, and you know what happened next.
“He called me up,”said Langevin, “and said, ‘I’m doing the same thing you’re doing. Let’s join forces.’ It was pretty much a similar type of phone call that I got from (Vaccaro). They were both cold calls. He had e-mailed me and said. ‘I think I can help you.’ So I told him, ‘Great, I’ll bring it to the board.’ And I did.
“I didn’t know Don at all, and I barely knew Tom. But I had a feeling about each of them. They were honest. They were in the same mode of thinking that the board was. And they could help us.”
Both offered low-interest advances so critical to closing the Deer Lake purchase that Mercaldo and Vaccaro were asked to speak at last week’s news conference. Mercaldo did. Former state Rep. Bruce Morris stepped in for Vaccaro.
“This was something that needed to get done,” Morris said. “But there’s another piece to this. The Hail Mary pass was received. We need to get on to permanency. We encourage everyone for the posterity … for the legacy of the state of Connecticut …for the children of the future … to let’s see what we can do to get the posterity done.”
That’s next. Deer Lake has been saved from development, but it hasn’t been saved for posterity – not until Pathfinders retires the $1.8 mortgage and puts a permanent conservation easement on the property.
“I hope I can play a part in achieving those goals and play a part in fundraising,” Mercaldo said.
He already has.