Killingworth’s Deer Lake is debt free as leaders look toward its future – NBC Connecticut

A beloved lake in Killingworth is now free of debt and protected from development pressure thanks to a nonprofit and leagues of donors focused on its preservation.

Deer Lake is a 253-acre property formerly owned by the Connecticut Yankee Council of Boy Scouts. It went up for sale in September of 2021 and though it was being watched and bid on by developers, local nonprofit Pathfinders Inc. found a way to purchase the site.

“We have known how important this property is,” Patty Clifton, the retired camp director at Deer Lake, said.

She was an early spark in the site’s preservation, by rallying the community around the land’s purchase.

“We said, ‘OK, we just have to save this place,’” Clifton said.

Thanks to over $3 million in donations from over 1,300 people spanning 87 Connecticut towns and 34 states, as well as donors from foreign countries, the nonprofit was able to fund the purchase.

“There were people we didn’t even know had a great feeling for deer lake and wanted to preserve it too,” Clifton said.

That $3 million was coupled with loans totaling $1.8 million, for a total purchase price of $4.75 million.

The debt from those loans has been paid off as of Tuesday, announced in a press conference with state and local leaders.

“We all threw a couple of blocks to make this possible, and I am just grateful to play a small part in that,” Attorney General William Tong said.

Tong said he learned of the potential sale of the lake for development and began aiding in legal pathways to ensure the residents and nonprofit had a fair shot at purchasing the lake for preservation. He was joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal who also had watched the sale of the property closely.

“We can all enjoy the treasures that we inherit, and we have an obligation we have to keep them,” Blumenthal said at Tuesday’s press conference.

The buyer, Pathfinders Inc., has big plans for the future of the property that closely involves the community.

“We welcome the public, to come and use our hiking trails, walk on the property,” Pathfinders President and Chairman Ted Langevin said.

He added the space will be inclusive and welcoming to all. It will also offer rentable space for weddings, corporate events and ceremonies. There are plans for future programing and camps to ensure the property has a long life protected from development, and close to nature.

“To welcome people onto our land and get them interested in coming more often, enjoy nature and all the things we have to offer,” Langevin said of goals for the site.

Clifton, meanwhile, is excited for the next chapter in Deer Lake’s life. She said with anticipated higher foot traffic and events, there will need to be upgrades and education on “leave no trace” philosophy to ensure the property stays pristine.

But she has high hopes Killingworth and surrounding communities will quickly learn to love what she, and others dedicated to saving the property, have loved for a long time.

“I would love the people in the area to be able to walk the trails and get the understanding how beautiful this property is,” Clifton said.

Read More: Killingworth’s Deer Lake is debt free as leaders look toward its future – NBC Connecticut

2024-04-02 22:07:33

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