The Myth of the Portable Observatory
and Other Fairy Tales
GSNEO has used many twisted tales to justify its actions. This was memorable for sheer outrageous-nous.
At the start of the Vision 2012 process to evaluate camps, all of us on the committee heard many inspiring speeches. One of them was about how they needed creative ideas. The camp decisions were really all about program. Programming drives property. We might keep all the camps, we might sell all the camps. No per-conceived notions. Think outside the box. Everything was on the table. No sacred cows.
Late winter of 2010 there was a gathering of the full Vision 2012 committee, plus senior staff, in the large meeting room. One of the points made was that not every camp needed to have every feature. Camps can and should specialize. Ironically, the example used was that Timberlane and Sugarbush both had wonderful observatories. They are tremendous assets. But by the same token - not every camp needed an observatory - two is plenty.
Then we find out that very spring, the council is getting ready to build at Ledgewood ------- an observatory!
No one wanted to say anything that could be interpreted as being opposed somehow to Ledgewood, or to observatories. But, yet........why would they be building anything at Ledgewood - or anywhere - if we were in the middle of an evaluation process? What if Ledgewood wasn't one of the properties kept? Or ....... was Ledgewood a sacred cow after all? After some hesitation, this very question was brought to a board member.
"If everything is on the table, why is it we are putting an observatory at Ledgewood?" "Oh," came the breezy answer, "It's a portable observatory."
Now observatories are large structures, and the telescope has to be seated and calibrated properly. They are definitely NOT portable. And eventually, the chief financial officer of the council wrote a reply explaining that if we somehow needed to move the observatory elsewhere, some of the equipment could be moved, but the base and walls were permanent. No kidding. Yet the first question was never answered: if the properties are in the process of being evaluated, why are we building an expensive structure on one of them?
" Oh well, we got a grant for it, that's why"
As if grants fall out of the sky.
No, some things were clearly pre-determined, and then the board pretended otherwise. Was it so we would feel involved? So we would feel important? And maybe we wouldn't notice evidence to the contrary?