April 19, 2021
Last week an anonymous website was posted which makes a series of unsubstantiated and speculative claims about the Carey Institute. We have received many comments expressing different points of view in response to this.
We too are opposed to many of the things which the anonymous website speculates. We take very seriously our responsibility to the whole community. Many of us have long histories in Rensselaerville, and are committed to historic and environmental preservation. Many of the Carey Institute board were responsible for ensuring that the property did not fall into uncertain hands when it was put up for sale by the Rensselaerville Institute over a decade ago.
None of us is happy about putting the campus up for sale. The Institute was, before COVID, the town’s largest employer, creating 70 jobs in season, providing benefits, including healthcare, to many and contributing millions of dollars to the local economy. The coming of COVID resulted in the loss of all of the campus-based revenue and the deterioration of our financial business model. Closing the campus has been very painful for us, not least because we can no longer help to support the larger community by providing jobs. We know that it has been a significant loss to our employees and to the community at large.
One of the programs we are most proud of at the Carey Institute is our Logan Nonfiction Program, established in response to the rise of disinformation. We have seen in recent years how divisive anonymous websites and posts are to our community and democracy. We are grateful to the many of you who have paused to question it.
There are too many mistruths, speculative claims and exaggerations being promoted anonymously online for us to address all of them. The anonymous website also conflates issues regarding the sale of the property with the placing of a conservation easement on the property. It’s important not to confuse these two things.
Here are some of the facts about those claims we think are most relevant –
Sale of the property
- The property has been listed on the open market since November last year. There was a lot of press about it at the time.
- In November 2020, in response to requests from the community, we created a page on our website with information about the decision to sell the property and create a conservation easement, inviting people to contact us with questions or comments. We also created a committee of the board last year to seek suitable nonprofit owners for the property.
- The campus remains for sale on the open market. We have not stopped marketing and are open to discussion with any interested parties. There is no deposit, no contract and no letters of intention that are signed and active with any party.
- We will conduct all necessary due diligence on any interested party.
- The purpose of the easement is to protect the open space, limit additional development to maintain an appropriate density of use, allow re-employment and procurement opportunities for the local community, and hopefully to allow the Institute to continue its mission in a post-COVID world.
- The easement on the property will protect the property from potential future wholesale development. The easement would prevent all but modest development (25% total additional square footage) only in those areas already developed. Any development would be height-limited to be lower than the tree line (approx. 35 feet). Wooded and open parts of the campus would be permanently protected. It would require that “dark sky” guidelines be adhered to.
- The Huyck Preserve has been involved in discussions about the easement from November 2020. We have agreed with some of their requests and recommendations, including increasing the protected areas bordering the preserve. The preserve asked that they be a third-party enforcer on the easement, which we agreed to. They recently decided to withdraw from that role.
Other Claims made by the anonymous website
- Local Employment – The website casually dismisses the importance of jobs for the local community. The Carey Institute, and The Rensselaerville Institute before it, has for a long time been the biggest employer in the local area, providing up to 70 jobs, salaries and benefits in season. Many of our staff are from local families, have worked at the Institute for years, and are passionate and proud of the work they have contributed to.
- Taxes – a for-profit entity would generate tens of thousands of dollars per year in taxes to the county, the Town of Rensselaerville and the local school district.
- Volume of traffic – The website begins with the word “Imagine…” What it suggests thereafter is pure speculation. True there has been auto congestion on Main Street lately. The Huyck Preserve recently stated they have 4,500 visitors per month, few of whom contribute to the local economy. The Institute has ample parking space to accommodate its guests.
Our local community is wide, varied and diverse. We have a responsibility to listen to all voices in the community.
Gareth Crawford, President & CEO
Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions or comments about the sale of this property. While we won’t be able to answer all individual emails, your input will inform our future updates. Contact us at email@example.com.