Camp Grow Conservancy Property Purchase Update

There has been a tremendous outpouring of support over the last ten months involving our Green Lake Community’s efforts to see Camp Grow get purchased and put into “permanent conservancy status”—assuring the protection of this property forever. Our Green Lake Conservancy Partnership has been working very hard since last summer to complete all of the work and fundraising to purchase Camp Grow and all of our efforts are going well with a targeted closing date of June 2018. A more detailed chronological timeline of important milestones for the Camp Grow Conservancy Property Purchase are outlined below:

SUMMER 2017: Our Green Lake Conservancy Partnership which consists of the Green Lake Sanitary District working in partnership with the Green Lake Conservancy was contacted by the owners of Camp Grow, American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago (ABCMC), to determine our interest in purchasing Camp Grow and gage our interest in putting the camp into permanent conservancy. The ABCMC had decided to sell Camp Grow for a number of reasons relating to their ministry mission. For the past several decades, Camp Grow had been operating as a church camp primarily used by children associated with their churches. Currently, the majority of Camp Grow consists of woods, water frontage (800 feet of water frontage on Big Green Lake and 1,500 feet of water frontage on Spring Lake) and open natural areas with various buildings sprinkled throughout the camp for various camp related activities.

AUG-SEPT 2017: After assessing the Camp Grow opportunity for several weeks, the Conservancy Partnership agreed to pursue the purchase of Camp Grow under the terms and conditions laid out by the ABCMC. More specifically, ABCMC agreed to give our Conservancy Partnership four months to submit a legitimate offer to purchase Camp Grow before the camp would be put on the open market for other interested parties. The Conservancy Partnership and the ABCMC tentatively agreed to a $4 million dollar purchase price. In addition, the ABCMC understood the Conservancy Partnership’s plan for purchasing Camp Grow and they were willing to give us until December 2017 to make our plan a reality. In short, the Conservancy Partnership’s plan involved two primary funding mechanisms. First, the Conservancy Partnership would write and submit a State of Wisconsin Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant which would be used to fund roughly one-half of the Camp Grow purchase price. The other half of the Camp Grow purchase price or $2 million dollars would need to be funded through pledges/donations from our Green Lake Community. Both the State Grant as well as the local fund raising was a significant challenge to say the least. By September 15, 2017, the Conservancy Partnership had completed and submitted the Knowles Nelson Stewardship Grant and the community fundraising was “kicked-off” by the Conservancy Partnership at approximately the same time.

SEPT-DEC 2017: Over the course of the next four months, the Conservancy Partnership worked thousands of hours on both the State Grant follow-up requirements as well as the ongoing efforts of many groups and individuals to raise the required grant match funding ($2 million dollars) by the agreed to date of December 2017. By early December 2017, the feedback on our grant from the State of Wisconsin was looking very positive and our fundraising efforts were also close to our goal of $2 million dollars. Consequently, representatives from our Conservancy Partnership wrote-up our official offer to purchase Camp Grow and delivered it to the home office of the ABCMC in Wilmette, Illinois. After a short negotiating period which lasted a couple weeks, both sides (buyers and sellers) agreed to a final purchase price of $3.75 million dollars. In addition, two key conditions needed to be satisfied before both sides could feel comfortable with the Camp Grow sale. First, the Conservancy Partnership needed to receive tentative approval from the State of Wisconsin that the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant was going to happen. Second, all 65 churches in the ABCMC needed to vote to approve the final sale conditions. By the end of December 2017, over 500+ people and organizations had pledged slightly over $2 million dollars to purchase Camp Grow and the feedback from the State of Wisconsin on our grant was continuing to look very positive. It was an exciting time for everyone and all the pieces were falling into place.

MAR-MAY 2018: Currently, the Conservancy Partnership is working to call in all of the pledges made toward the purchase of Camp Grow. As of April 2018 (the printing of this newsletter), over 80% of the pledges made have been collected ($1.7 million of the $2.1 million). We expect to achieve very close to 100%. Over the next 30 to 45 days, we will wrap-up the administrative requirements to complete the Knowles-Nelson Grant and continue to process the remaining pledge payments as they are sent to us from our generous supporters.

JUN-AUG 2018: The Big Green Lake Conservancy Partnership will set a closing date and officially purchase Camp Grow. The actual closing date has not been set, but it is expected to occur before the end of June. It is important for all “Camp Grow Supporters” to mark their calendars for Saturday, August 25, 2018, this will be the day to celebrate at Camp Grow with food and festivities for all of the 500+ people and organizations who made the Camp Grow Conservancy Property a reality (more on this in the coming weeks and months).

JUL 2018-DEC 2020: This 24 month to 36 month window will be used to do the majority of the Camp Grow restoration. In this first phase of restoration, all of the current buildings will be removed or demolished and the entire camp will undergo a substantial facelift to bring the entire 40 acres back to the natural area resembling what it would have looked like 200 years ago. All current recreational trails on the Camp Grow property will be maintained for hikers, bikers and other permitted recreational uses. The main trail will be maintained in its present form and bikers will be able to pass safely across Camp Grow (the Western entrance will come off Oakwood Beach Rd and the Eastern entrance will come off Oakwood Ave)

We will continue to share more information on this historic project as the final pieces of this purchase are completed in the coming months. Lastly, as a partner in the Conservancy Partnership, the Green Lake Sanitary District Board wants all of the GLSD property owners to know how thankful they are to receive this type of generous support for a natural area project which will live on forever.