By Aviva Hope Rutkin
On Monday, President Stephen Ainlay announced plans to purchase the Center for the Forest Preserve using a contribution from an anonymous donor.
The Preserve, which is located at 897 St. David’s Lane in Niskayuna, includes the original home of noted conservationist Paul Schaefer and the attached Adirondack Research Library. It also lies adjacent to the Henry G. Reist Wildlife Sanctuary, an 111.24-acre preserve owned by the Lands of the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club.
“It’s ultimately all about trying to take better advantage of where are,” said Ainlay. “For me, what’s exciting about the Adirondack project is all of the different ways the space can be used.”
Union College has a strong past connection to the property. In fact, the library was originally housed at Union until the mid-1980s, when its volumes were handed over to grassroots environmental organization Protect the Adirondacks!, Inc.
The college hopes that the library, which will open to students in the fall, will become a center for educational programs, outdoor concerts and readings, and departmental retreats.
“President Ainlay asked us, ‘Do you think you could use this space?’ and we said, ‘Yes! By all means,” said Thomas Jewell, the director of the Environmental Science, Policy, and Engineering program. Although the department still in the early stages of deciding how to best use the new space, they hope to hold their end-of-the-year senior dinner there.
In addition to the Forest Preserve, the college is in talks with the Irondequoit organization to purchase an inn and 500 acres of undeveloped property along to coast of Lake Piseco. Located about an hour and a half away from Union, this area could be used for departmental retreats, independent student research, and Outing Club events. Ainlay even mentioned the possibility of developing an Adirondack Mountains mini-term for students.