As the staff of SUNY Cortland's Environmental and Outdoor Education Center at Raquette Lake prepares for the winter season, we thought it would be a good time to update friends, students and alumni about the progress that’s been made in securing the future of Antlers. Although things may appear calm on the surface, there has been a lot of activity behind the scenes. I can assure you that the Antlers property is being transferred to the Cortland College Foundation as quickly as all the parties involved can responsibly complete the process.
Because both the Foundation and the College are doing their due diligence and crafting the agreement to make sure all New York State requirements are met, this transfer process is taking longer than anticipated. Considerable progress, however, is being made on each of the following components:
Fundraising: The Foundation has committed to raising $1.5 million for Raquette Lake. To date, $413,992 has been committed. The fundraising staff has submitted numerous large gift proposals to potential donors and continues to pursue other major gifts and naming opportunities. Our longstanding policy is to report closed gifts in our figures only when we have complete pledge documentation. Our expectation is to solicit a much broader group of individuals interested in Raquette Lake after Jan. 1. We hope to be further along with the transfer process by then. Your leadership support will be important to our success, and we will be asking each of you to make a gift. Our goal is to raise the $1.5 million by June 30, which is the anticipated closing date of our $25 million Educating Champions campaign. Regardless of how much is raised by that date, Raquette Lake fundraising will continue until the goal is met. Raquette Lake will always be an optional gift designation for donors.
Legal: The terms and conditions of a 30-year lease are very complex. Legal representatives for both the College and the Foundation are working diligently and judiciously to finalize the lease agreement. After the lease agreement terms are mutually agreed upon by the College and Foundation, the College will send the lease to the Attorney General’s office for review. After that review, appropriate revisions will be made and the lease agreement will be sent to the New York State Office of the Comptroller. After comptroller approval, the transfer of title can take place. Our goal is to have the lease sent to the AG and the comptroller by Dec. 31.
Business Plan: The Foundation board requested that a comprehensive business plan be developed in an effort to show how Raquette Lake facilities will be utilized going forward. The director of the Outdoor Education Center at Raquette Lake, Rob Rubendall, drafted the original business plan document. It has since been further enhanced with a financial model. For all practical purposes, the business plan is “complete.” Since it was always envisioned as a living, working document, however, it will continue to evolve as the College looks to develop a sustainable, year-round programmatic framework for both properties.
Capital: The College remains committed to providing $1 million in capital funds to update Antlers.
Other: The Phase I environmental audit has been started and the firm conducting the audit will provide a report by Nov. 17. Prior to the property transfer from ASC, the Foundation will require that any issues identified through the environmental audit be resolved. The College has agreed to be financially responsible for any remediation required. Although this is something that could potentially delay the transfer, it will not derail it. And it is in everyone’s best interest to complete that work prior to the transfer.
Thank you for your patience. As much as we all want the transfer to happen quickly, I believe we can agree that allowing all parties involved with the Antlers property transfer time to complete their due diligence will strengthen the measure and, ultimately, the program. I am happy with the progress that has been made since I joined SUNY Cortland on June 25, 2012. As an outdoor enthusiast, I understand your interest in and commitment to Antlers and the Center for Environmental and Outdoor Education at Raquette Lake.