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Conservation Leadership - Action 5

Action:  Develop a master plan for green building use and feasibility of the “CFPA conservation campus” concept.

What is it?

CFPA’s headquarters building, the James L. Goodwin Forest & Park Center, has provided critical working and meeting spaces for members of the conservation community since 1985.  Centrally located and welcoming, CFPA is truly the place where Connecticut’s conservation conversations happen.  Over the past 30 years, CFPA has reoriented some of the building’s interior components to accommodate a growing staff, has performed basic maintenance, and made modest investments to improve existing facilities (bathroom renovations; community room powerpoint projector set-up; replacement of roof; insulation of windows; arbor, benches, and “logo wall” with Wesleyan students in courtyard, etc.). 

In recent years, CFPA has also encouraged volunteers like the “Garden Gang” to do significant work to enhance the attractiveness of the grounds, and has worked closely with the Camp family to connect CFPA’s 2 acres, to the 250 acres of Highlawn Forest and trails that abut it.  However, the basic functionality of the building and grounds has remained relatively unchanged for 30 years, and it is a good time for a fresh look. To that end, CFPA’s “Green Building and Grounds Committee” is leading the effort to both provide and solicit input into a Master Plan for the future of CFPA’s building and grounds. 

Why is it important?

There are several reasons why developing a Master Plan for CFPA’s building and grounds is important:

  • CFPA’s headquarters and grounds are the most important tangible assets that CFPA owns alongside the conservation properties CFPA holds and the Blue-Blazed Hiking Trails we steward. 
  • CFPA’s professional staff has needs for effective office space that are not being met adequately.
  • Although prominently located on Route 66, most passers-by do not know anything about CFPA and the building and grounds provide great opportunities to further engage the public. 
  • Current onsite parking at CFPA is unable to accommodate major community room events.
  • If CFPA wishes to establish a “conservation campus” with other organizations as tenants in the future, building and parking space constraints have to be addressed.
  • Around 60 different organizations hold meetings in the space provided by CFPA.  Investments that improve this community space benefit Connecticut’s entire conservation community.

What will the impact be?

Once the Master Plan is developed, CFPA will have options to address the current shortcomings of the building and grounds.  Whichever option is selected moving forward, there will be a need to raise significant funding for capital improvements at the same time that funds are necessary to support ongoing operational needs and the endowment.  CFPA will likely need professional assistance to launch a successful capital campaign, and this will be another important investment to consider.

CFPA’s conservation programs begin with dedicated professional staff members who design and help implement programs with numerous partners and volunteers.  Addressing some of the shortcomings of the building and grounds will help CFPA to both retain and attract outstanding staff in the future to continue the important work of implementing CFPA’s mission.

Furthermore, it makes sense that CFPA’s building and grounds are outgrowths of our conservation mission.  For example, there are multitudinous environmental educational opportunities on the grounds (e.g. interpretive information on native, sustainable landscapes) or with energy efficiency improvements to the building (e.g. interactive displays that show the green offsets from increased efficiency).