To the Editor:
It has been just a year since the fire at the Cullens Lodge compromised the second floor, the roof and made the kitchen off limits. With the help of friends and some local contractors, Rich Fenaroli of Sanctus IND Inc. and Dan Fedorchek, Heritage Roof Renovations, we have been able to re-establish most of the functionality of the building and will continue to support the vision of the Rev. Paul Cullens and his wife. Their mission and ours is to promote youth growth and leadership development through the outdoor experience.
As part of repairing the building, the Board of Directors of Cullens Youth Association, Inc. took a long look at the facilities offered. The 12 acres of land and 7 acre pond are available to organized youth groups of Newtown on a no-cost basis. The association has maintained a rustic environment to engender the feeling of “roughing it.” While this positioning worked well for many years, we do question whether we need to update our facilities to meet the requirements of a broader community.
A review of the facilities prompted by the fire clearly indicates that significant structural and cosmetic improvements are needed to assure long term viability and usability of the lodge. The current lodge was initially an open, elevated pavilion built on piers and used by a summer day camp. The pavilion was enclosed in 1982 by a dedicated group of board members and includes a kitchen and large meeting room. The approach road, a gravel and dirt configuration, does not encourage speeding (he says with a smile) and tends to intimidate the unwary. The current lodge does not offer any respite from this intimidation.
While we are sensitive to history and tradition, the board generally believes that it would be more efficient and provide a greater community asset to replace the lodge with a new structure. We will begin working to that end and are open to the thoughts of the community as we move forward. We will share these plans as they develop. I deeply appreciate the interest and concerns expressed by the community over the past year.
Cullens does rely on private donations for its operating funds and I do thank those many contributors and volunteers who have supported this organization over the years. I would especially like to acknowledge the Newtown Lions Club which has been a sustaining source of encouragement and aid in the delivery of our mission. This next phase of the project may be lengthy and I invite comments and support from all interested community members.
James A. Loring
Cullens Youth Association Inc
9 Cobblestone Lane, Newtown March 20, 2013