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November 21, 2013

Clark presents foundations' visions for village

Cooperstown Crier

---- — The Clark family has been helping Cooperstown for generations, and recently Jane Forbes Clark spoke about her family’s vision for the village. 

The Women’s Club of Cooperstown hosted Clark at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Christ Church Parish House. Clark spoke about the Clark and Scriven Foundations and the Leatherstocking Corporation and their missions.

Clark began her presentation with a quote from Edward Severin Clark in 1860 about how beautiful Otsego Lake and its environs are.

“The entire Clark family is committed to the preservation and conservation of Otsego Lake,” Clark said in an interview.

Clark spoke about how her family is involved with the protection and maintenance of Otsego Lake and how her family owns Mohegan Farm on the west side of Otsego Lake.

“We’re looking to develop environmentally sustainable practices,” Clark said.

Bob Sutherland, director of the farm, and his team are conducting research such as testing various grasses to see which type helps to prevent erosion, Clark said. The farm also uses recycled materials and composting.

Clark then spoke about the two foundations operated by the Clark family, the Clark Foundation and the Scriven Foundation.

The Clark Foundation, founded in 1931, is a philanthropic organization committed to education and the arts in Cooperstown and New York City, she said.

The Clark Foundation supports such organizations as the Brookwood School, College for Every Student, Hartwick College, Bassett and Otsego Department of Social Services.

This foundation donates $7.5 million to charitable organizations every year.

The Scriven Foundation, named after Elizabeth Scriven Clark, was founded in 1975, Clark said. It donates only to Otsego County nonprofit organizations including Springbrook, Hyde Hall and the Cooperstown Village Library. The Scriven Foundation donates $1.5 million every year. 

“It’s a very diverse group and we can really make a difference whether it’s for a new roof or new program,” she said. “We try to help where we can.” 

The Leatherstocking Corporation is a for-profit group that owns the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Otesaga Hotel, The Farmers’ Museum, the Cooper Inn and various other real estate in the Cooperstown area, Clark said. Its operating budget is $14 million a year.

Clark said that there’s a broader context to the Clarks’ involvement in Cooperstown. Because of the various businesses that the Clark family owns, 4,198 people have employment, she said, with 3,100 of those positions being full time jobs.

Clark also said that the family has a, “very exciting expansion coming up at the Clark Sports Center.”

“We have more demand,” Clark said. “It’s not only about our members, it’s our outreach endeavors like Springbrook that use our facility.”

Clark said the building would have an addition put on the backside of the building, going toward the back parking lot. The people involved in this project are still in the initial planning phases and are unsure when they will break ground for this project, she said.

One of the group’s members asked about the children who are going to the Clark Sports Center after school and if the Sports Center would continue to accommodate them with the new expansion.

“I think we’re trying to see what we can do to help those kids,” Clark said. “We can accommodate more if we have more space.”

“If we can help, we’re going to,” she continued.

Clark also said that it’s important for the children to have a safe place to go after school, where they have engaging programs like the ones offered at the Sports Center.

Representatives from the Thanksgiving Home and other organizations thanked Clark for her work and her donations.

“Thank you for making this the special place it is,” said Mary Margaret Kuhn, the president of the Women’s Club of Cooperstown. “I can’t imagine this part of New York without you and your family.”

“It’s a team effort,” Clark said. “It takes all these organizations working as a team to make it work.”

The Women’s Group of Cooperstown meets on the second Tuesday of every month, September through April.

“It’s affordable for our members from a wide age range,” Kuhn said. “It’s really good for our ladies to see friends that they don’t have the chance to see through out the month.”

“It’s just really nice for the different generations of ladies to get together and visit,” Kuhn continued.

Kuhn said the group is able to do a lot of good for the community with its donations to local charities and with the Helen N. Hale Scholarship.

For more information about the Women’s Club of Cooperstown and its upcoming programs, call Kuhn at 547-6181.