Campaign to Save Deer Lake Enters New Phase

13 September--Pathfinders, Inc. will hold a news conference on Friday, Sept. 16, 10 a.m., at Deer Lake in Killingworth to announce the purchase of the Deer Lake Scout Reservation from the Connecticut Yankee Council (CYC) of the Boy Scouts. Pathfinders is a non-profit organization that has worked for the last year to save the property from private development.

The purchase price is $4.75 million, with Pathfinders raising over $3 million in donations and the remainder in loans. Pathfinders succeeded in bettering a previous offer of $4.625 million made by a private developer that was tentatively accepted by the CYC in February.

“The heroes of this story are the more than 1,300 donors who already have contributed over $3 million toward the purchase,” says Pathfinders president Ted Langevin. “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.”

Contributions of $5 to $1 million have come from donors in 87 Connecticut towns, 34 states, and 4 countries! School children have collected funds; artisans have donated hand-crafted items; companies have donated merchandise. Many donors have had firsthand experience of the day camp over more than three decades. All of them recognize the vital importance of saving this piece of open space, which The Nature Conservancy has called one of the “most resilient” to climate change in southern New England.

Don Vaccaro, CEO of TicketNetwork, and Tom Mercaldo, president of Aquinas Consulting, were instrumental in the successful bid to purchase the Deer Lake property, providing low-interest loans that allowed Pathfinders to meet CYC’s deadline and close the deal on September 15.

Pathfinders will continue to operate the Deer Lake summer camp and Wilderness School. The group also will work with the Town of Killingworth and the State of Connecticut to ensure that the greenway is protected in perpetuity.