Stearns Lodge - Background Info

Stearns Lodge

The Need for a Base Camp

RMC's Response

Construction Options and Costs

Expenses and Ongoing Management

Stearns Lodge Construction Video

23 September 2005

Dear Members and Friends,

Over the last several years you have most likely heard and read about a proposal to construct a base camp in Randolph Valley to house the RMC's seasonal trail crews and to provide a base for our camps caretakers. After considerable planning, discussions with many members, and a strong vote of support at the 2004 annual meeting, the board decided this spring to proceed with the fundraising for this building.

We are excited to report substantial progress towards our goal of $300,000! We have already raised $150,000 or half of our goal from gifts and pledges from the board and close friends. One hundred percent of the board and all former presidents of the Club have made financial commitments. In addition the Anna B. Stearns Charitable Foundation has agreed to provide up to $100,000 if the Club can raise an additional $50,000 in new gifts and pledges. In other words, they will give $2 for every $1. Because we hope very much to begin construction of base camp in the fall of 2006, we now turn to you, our members and friends to ask for your support.

A base camp benefits all of us because it is the key to the Club's ability to continue quality maintenance for over 100 miles of paths on the northern side of the Presidential Range and in the Randolph vicinity. It also will make significant difference in our ability to hire caretakers. Our paths and camps not only provide service to everyone who uses them, they help to define what the RMC is and strengthen the RMC's long tradition in the mountains. In recent years the Club has weathered a devastating ice storm, rebuilt our camps, improved our trail crews and built the Goetze Workshop. The addition of a base camp will position the RMC well for the future as we approach the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Club in 1910.

Please consider how you can support the RMC over an above what you might give on a regular basis and make a gift or a pledge now. We need your support to reach our goal and to meet the generous challenge from the Anna B. Stearns Charitable Foundation. In the event that we exceed our goal, funds will be allocated for maintenance of the base camp. Donors who give $2,000 or more will be recognized on a special plaque.

When considering your commitment please remember that the RMC is a volunteer-run organization without any permanent staff. We are grateful for your gifts of time as well as money. Thank you for your support.

Sincerely yours,

Jamie Maddock

The Need for a Base Camp

The single greatest challenge currently facing the RMC is that of maintaining its trails and camps into the future. Housing the club's seasonal trail crew and caretakers is a critical part of that effort.

Though the club hires from within Randolph whenever possible, for the past twenty years there have not been enough local applicants to meet the club's needs.

The club has tried various methods of providing housing for these out-of-towners:

* In the 1980's, RMC trail crew rented housing in scattered locations. Coordination with RMC board members was difficult. Morale, productivity and retention of employees suffered greatly. Camps and trails volunteers were seriously over-stressed.

* In 1995, RMC paid to house its trail crew at AMC's Camp Dodge. This option ended in 2001, when AMC reclaimed the housing space for its own seasonal employees.

* In 2002, through the remarkable generosity of the Tucker family, the RMC was able to bring trail crews, caretakers and Field Supervisor together under the roof of the Jones Cottage and in tents nearby. As a result, the club has been able to recruit better qualified applicants for trail crew and caretaker positions. Morale and a sense of community with each other and with RMC volunteers have improved. We now have employees returning to us year after year. Burnout of key camps and trails volunteers has been reduced.

However, the Tucker family has made it clear that the use of the Jones Cottage is only temporary and has asked the club to seek a permanent solution.

Recognizing the club's long term need, the Tuckers have made a second remarkable offer: three acres of land, in the valley next to the Goetze Workshop and convenient to trail heads, to be donated to the RMC if we build our own basecamp there to serve our trail crew and caretaker.

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RMC's Response

In October 2003 the RMC board of directors voted unanimously to establish a committee to develop a draft plan that would meet all the club's housing needs.

The board believes they are responding to members' desires, stated in response to a survey done in 2002, that they want the club to remain a small, volunteer-run organization, but at the same time to do what is necessary to meet the challenge of growing pressure on its camps and trails so that none are eliminated. The board recognizes that this growing pressure has required a larger and more experienced trail crew and year-around caretakers for its camps, for some time now. This has in turn led to the above-stated need for housing.

The board also recognizes that all the other comparable trails clubs in the area already have their own housing facilities.

The Basecamp Committee established by the board includes former President Jeffrey Tirey, RMC board members Lydia Goetze, Guy Stever and Doug Mayer, as well as John Scarinza, Gray Knob and Crag Camp builder John Tremblay, former AMC Trails Supervisor David Salisbury, and current RMC trail crew and caretakers. The Building Committee is co-chaired by Trails Chair Doug Mayer and Paul Cormier, a Randolph resident, longtime RMC member and highly experienced contractor.

The Committee worked for nine months, exploring many options. Five other trail clubs-- both larger and smaller than RMC-- were consulted for their experience.

Together with Randolph architect Tim Sappington, the committee developed plans that embodied the club's needs. The result was a conceptual plan for trail crew and caretaker housing, which was presented to the Board of Directors in April 2004.

The board subsequently voted unanimously to authorize a Feasibility Committee to share this conceptual plan with selected, longtime RMC members and friends.

This first plan, which consisted of $400,000 in construction costs and a $200,000 endowment, was deemed too costly for the club. However, the Feasibility Committee found strong support for the need, and gathered valuable suggestions, many of which were ultimately incorporated into the final plans.

In August of last year, former RMC President Jeff Tirey presented the work to date, at the club's annual meeting. A positive, supportive conversation ensued, and audience members provided a number of suggestions. Over 100 RMC members present then voted unanimously to proceed with the project, and empowered the RMC board to seek out a less costly building design.

Following the Annual meeting, the Building Committee was given the new assignment to "return to the drawing boards" and reduce the costs as much as possible, while still maintaining the core functions of the building, and its usefulness to the club.

Over the course of the fall, winter and spring, the Building Committee met frequently to refine the design, brainstorm creative ways to save expenses, and discussed every aspect of the building in detail.

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As a result of the Building Committee's work, the costs of the project were cut significantly to a total project cost of less than $300,000. Savings were realized in nearly all aspects of the project.

The trail crew and summer caretakers will continue to use tents as their sleeping quarters and only a small section of the building would be winterized for use by the winter caretakers.

RMC Basecamp Construction Quotes

Conventional Construction:

Technique: Local contractor using conventional materials.
Pro: Attention to detail, minor changes possible during construction.
Con: Less efficient construction technique, possibly higher costs.

Quotes: $243,000, $256,000, $303,000

Modular Construction:

Technique: Built in a factory, delivered to site via tractor-trailer. RMC is still responsible for foundation and site work, septic and well.
Pro: Inexpensive, fast and efficient construction.
Con: There is less ability to change minor points during construction, and possible hidden costs.

Quote: $231,600

Panelized Construction:

Technique: Building is constructed in a factory, walls are shipped to the site and assembled.
Pros and Cons: same as modular

Quote: $293,000.

Log Construction:

Technique: Whole log home style, using an area log cabin home builder.
Pros: Aesthetically pleasing, functional, sturdy interior.
`Cons: Little ability to adjust design during construction.

Quote: $289,900

Timber Framer's Guild:

Technique: Post and beam construction. RMC uses a conventional builder to prepare the site, including foundation. The Guild brings volunteers to the site, to construct timber frame. RMC uses conventional builder to finish building after frame is constructed.
Pros: Aesthetically pleasing, good opportunity for volunteer involvement, memorable experience for Randolphians and RMC'ers during timber framing weeks, sturdy, rustic, simple design.
Cons: Greater planning and coordination required.

Quote: To be determined. RMC's application pending with the Timber Guild has been accepted, so this option is available to us if we want to proceed. The building committee needs to develop a cost estimate for this technique.

All of the above quotes include all costs. However, for your information, the core costs are budgeted as follows:

Septic $16,000
Water Well $6,000
Drivway/Parking $10,000
Site Clearing $5,000
Site Grading and excavation $15,000

The RMC Building Committee intends to use RMC volunteers as appropriate, to accomplish tasks such as staining exterior of building, to save money. However, any savings were specifically not calculated into the quotes above. This will provide the club with some leeway, in the event of increased construction costs between the date of the quote and actual construction.

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Operating Expenses

Based on the club's experience with the Jones Cottage, the RMC Board of Directors developed an annual operating budget for the basecamp. Total operating costs are $7,325.

The RMC board initially explored the idea of funding the additional costs via a permanent endowment. However, information gathered by the Feasibility Committee showed that this was too great a fundraising goal for the club. Instead, the club proposes to fund the operating costs through an increase in camps fees and dues.

To study whether an increase in fees and dues was feasible, the club assigned a committee in the fall of 2004, to develop recommendations.

The committee found that both camps fees and dues were significantly lower than other, similar organizations in New England. The RMC Board believes that there is ample leeway in these areas to fund the additional operation costs.

Ongoing Management

Annual maintenance is not foreseen to be a job that is too great for the RMC to handle. The club's ongoing experience with the Jones Cottage supports this expectation and, of course, the club already maintains its two cabins and two shelters. A volunteer or a person paid a few hundred dollars a year as caretaker should be equal to the task of identifying maintenance needs and supervising repairs.

Future Capital Expenses

The club anticipates a fundraising campaign with a goal of $300,000.

With 7 estimates that average $262,000, the club anticipates using the difference to fund a permanent, capital expense fund, to be spent as needed in years hence, to accomplish major repairs. In the interim, this fund would accrue interest.

A Final Word

The RMC will celebrate its first century of operation in 2010. For all these years, the club has maintained its unique Randolph identity and its volunteer core, while responding to the challenges of the day. The present board is dedicated to continuing this record.

We now have a splendid opportunity to address a clear and present need and to set the club on sturdy footing for its second century of stewardship of our beloved camps and paths.

Significant financial support from RMC's longtime friends is imperative to a successful outcome.

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