Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are writing you with sad news. For most of this year, because of COVID-19, we have been unable to host people at the Carey Institute for Global Good and we are running short of money. We have no choice but to put the 100-acre Institute campus up for sale.
We have done everything we could during the year to avoid this step. The Carey Institute is the largest employer in and around Rensselaerville and has generated $24 million, much of it going back into the local economy via employment and procurement in its nine years of existence. Much of the food we serve is sourced locally. We have up to 70, mostly local permanent and seasonal employees, whom we treasure. We are incredibly proud of all our incredibly dedicated staff who have put so much time and passion into making the campus such a wonderful place to visit, providing exceptional customer service to all our guests, and developing high-quality, impactful programs enjoyed by participants from around the world.
But we have to face the reality that the bulk of our revenues come from meetings, conferences, events and weddings — and that market is dead for the foreseeable future. That means we cannot fund the large amount needed for salaries and maintenance of the aging buildings and systems on our campus. This is the case, even with support from the family of our founder, William P. Carey, and his foundation and other donors.
As we put the Institute campus up for sale, we are seeking a new owner who will fit into the historic small community of Rensselaerville. We are negotiating a permanent conservation easement with Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy that will keep our 100-acre campus in harmony with the scenic and rural character of the area.
We seek an easement that would prevent all but modest development of the campus and would prohibit tall buildings and bright lights that would be out of character. Any expansion would be limited to a quarter of the existing buildings’ square footage and would have to be adjacent and connected to those buildings. The wooded and open parts of the campus would be permanently protected from development. Thus, the hills and meadows would remain as they are. It would also limit the height of anything built to be lower than the forest canopy (about 30 feet above ground); it would limit permanent lighting so that “dark sky” is maintained as an amenity for the community and it would continue the traditional uses of the property.
The conservation easement would cover the entire campus. It is expected that this would result in little or no reduction in the property tax that would be paid to the Town by a new owner. The conservation easement would be effective prior to sale to any future purchaser and would remain in effect in perpetuity.
Our campus has been one of Rensselaerville’s most important sites for over a century. In the early 1900’s, it was the site of two estate houses built by the scions of the Huyck Company. In mid-century, the Huyck family donated the campus to the newly created Institute on Man and Science, which was renamed the Rensselaerville Institute. The progressive Huyck family, one of the first to offer employees benefits such as health care and pensions, envisioned their Institute as a venue where social progress could be pondered and advanced. In this quest, they hosted many international and national dignitaries, including Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren and United Nations Secretary General U Thant.
In 2011, the Rensselaerville Institute was having financial troubles maintaining the campus. A group of Rensselaerville citizens appealed to longtime resident William Polk Carey to step in, and he ultimately bought the campus to house his newly created Carey Institute for Global Good. Bill had founded and run a multibillion-dollar real estate financing firm active throughout the world. There were three main elements to Bill’s vision for his Institute:
• Help the culture and economy of Rensselaerville and its surrounding area
• Restore New York State’s economic and governmental vitality
• Address social and political problems here and abroad
Unfortunately, Bill Carey died on January 1, 2012 and we have tried to realize his vision without his wise counsel and many connections to sources of funding.
We adopted a mission statement which we thought expressed Bill’s vision: The Carey Institute for Global Good is dedicated to making a better world by contributing to a strong, educated and just society.
Over the past nine years, we have held many conferences and events — and developed three major programs that we hope to continue:
• The nationally recognized Logan Nonfiction program, now the largest exclusively nonfiction residency in the United States. It has housed more than a hundred longform nonfiction authors and documentarians from around the world, and has produced scores of books and documentaries, including bestsellers and prizewinners.
• The Center for Learning and Practice supports education by focusing on teachers. Its flagship program, the Refugee Educator Academy, has reached almost 3,000 educators worldwide in 25 countries on 5 continents, through over 40 offerings including courses, webinars, and workshops. It has established partnerships with individual countries, United Nations agencies, humanitarian groups, NGOs, institutions of higher education, and it gets impressive support from the foundation world. It continues to break new ground in teacher professional development both here in the US and globally.
• The Sustainable Communities program has helped create new opportunities for rural economies across the state. It has connected farmers to brewers and distillers who seek locally grown ingredients for New York State’s $450 million craft beverage industry. During the pandemic it has continued to provide technical assistance to small breweries in rural towns just like Rensselaerville. It built a wonderful small brewery on our campus that use local ingredients in its beer production, and opens its doors to aspiring brewers for hands-on learning. And it has helped strengthen connections between our community and nearby urban markets and resources.
In addition, here are just a few of the many other events and programs we’ve conducted at our campus in Rensselaerville:
• Several years of the Catskill High Peaks Music Festival, which brought promising classical musicians from around the world for an annual two weeks of lectures, masterclasses, moonlight sonatas and concerts to which our community — and especially local aspiring musicians — were invited.
• A gallery space where local artists could show and hopefully sell their work to the thousands of people who have passed through the Institute over the years.
• A venue for bike races and other events such as the annual July 4th fireworks display that had been initiated by Bill Carey.
• Many conferences promoting social good such as gatherings to explore how to protect journalists exposed to risk.
• Scores of strategic retreats for a variety of organizations such as NPR’s “This American Life” and Columbia University’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma
• Several gatherings to help veterans and their spouses such as “SongwritingWith: Soldiers,” which teamed PTSD-affected vets with professional songwriters, who helped them express their feelings through song; And writing-training seminars conducted by The War Horse Newsroom for spouses of vets.
• Hosted Keystone Next Gen Immersions supporting hundreds of local teachers and students, with unique full-day workshops and seminars exposing students to real world situations and curricula that broaden the regular school day experience.
So that’s the situation. We will keep you posted as things develop. Please rest assured we are doing everything we can to protect our wonderful community. And thank you for your support over the years.
President and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.