By now, some of you may have heard that the Alumni Association and Foundation has been asked to move out of its space in the Babson Center.
Last November, I approached the leaders of the Foundation to ask that they find new offices because the campus space, which they use rent free, would be needed once classroom renovations begin. Given the current budget environment and in an effort to avoid concerns about preferential treatment, I also asked them to work with us to develop a lease and begin paying rent in the meantime.
In four months, the Foundation declined to pay rent or work with us in good faith to find an acceptable alternative. The Academy subsequently received additional appropriated funding for renovations under the continuing resolution for Fiscal Year 2013 approved by Congress last month. The additional funding allowed us to move up our plans for this space, including updating the heating and air conditioning systems in preparation for building new classrooms. This opportunity, combined with the lack of progress with the Foundation, prompted us to require the Foundation to use or find other space for its work beginning at the end of April.
The Foundation can rent other space off campus to continue its work. It also has space nearby in the Lerner House it purchased four years ago, but in that time, the Foundation has not gained approval from the Village of Kings Point to rezone the property for commercial use. The Academy values its relationship with both its alumni and the Kings Point community and believes this issue is best resolved between the two involved parties, but we cannot put our plans on hold in the expectation that it will be resolved after four years.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have included links to both my original letter to the Foundation, which addressed a number of financial concerns, and my latest letter, which details our efforts to reach an agreement, here.
It is disappointing that we could not come to a better resolution, but I want you to know that the Academy deeply values its relationship with all Kings Point alumni and continues to seek out and work with graduates interested in ensuring a strong future for the school.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does the Academy need the space for?
A: As part of its ongoing campus-wide improvements, the Academy needs the space for classrooms while other buildings are renovated.
Q: Why move the Foundation out now?
A: The Academy never signed a lease with the Foundation to use campus space. At a time when the Academy is facing space constraints and in order to avoid charges of preferential treatment, it has asked the Foundation to find other offices.
Q: Didn’t the Foundation offer you $60,000 each year for use of this space?
A: The Foundation’s response arrived after the Academy’s deadline and included several clauses unacceptable to the Academy, including sole rights to the property for the next ten years. The Academy will not agree to a lease that removes federal property from its control.
Q: Is it true that the Academy demanded that the Alumni Foundation pay annual rent in the amount of $1,785,168?
A: No. As you can see in the November letter to the Alumni Foundation, the Academy proposed an annual rental rate of $29 per square foot, which equates to an annual rent of approximately $145,000. The lease inadvertently stated $29/square foot per month. If this discrepancy had been pointed out sooner, we would have corrected the misperception immediately.
Q: Why isn’t the Academy helping the Foundation seek zoning approval for the Lerner House?
A: The Academy values its relationship with both its alumni and the Kings Point community and believes this issue is best resolved between the two involved parties.
Q: The Foundation says this is a punitive effort coming from the Academy and Department of Transportation – what do you have to say to that?
A: Since he first visited the Academy in 2009, Secretary LaHood has worked to secure record funding to rebuild campus infrastructure that hadn’t been touched since it was built in the 1940s. Thanks to his efforts, the Academy will have a new pier, a new ship, renovated barracks, a new dining hall and now, new academic spaces.
Both the Secretary and the Superintendent have reached out to all Kings Point alumni to emphasize their willingness to work together to ensure a strong future for the school, an invitation that remains open today.
Q: Why did you change the date the Foundation needed to leave from June to April?
A: Our original June offer was made in the expectation that the Foundation would begin helping the Academy by paying rent and utilities. In the four months since then, the Foundation refused to pay rent or work in good faith with us to offer a suitable alternative to our current space situation. The Academy subsequently received additional appropriated funding for renovations under the continuing resolution for Fiscal Year 2013 approved by Congress last month. The additional funding allowed us to move up our plans for this space, including updating the heating and air conditioning systems in preparation for building new classrooms.
Q: Why can’t you let the Foundation use Melville Hall?
A: This week was the first time the Alumni Foundation suggested using Melville Hall. However, we are scheduled to commence needed renovations in Melville Hall and are identifying a contractor to run the space for weddings, parties and alumni events traditionally held there.
Q. If all the other service academies provide their alumni organization with space on their grounds, why won’t you?
A. None of the other academies provide space in Federal buildings to their alumni organizations. The U.S. Naval Academy’s alumni organization is housed in a non-Federally owned building outside its gates. The alumni organizations at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy lease land from their respective academies on which they built privately-funded buildings.
Q. Why are you not complying with the 1980 legal opinion that states that the Alumni Foundation must be located on board the Academy and that it belongs there rent free?
A. This 1980 legal opinion, which was provided to then-Superintendent Rear Admiral Thomas King, did not require that the Alumni Foundation be located on the Academy grounds, nor did it require that such space, should it be provided, must be rent free. Instead, the opinion stated that, in appropriate circumstances, a Federal agency could grant a non-exclusive, non-transferable, revocable permit for the use of Federal property by a non-Federal entity and that rent need not be paid. Based on the circumstances in 1980, the Academy permissively granted the Alumni Foundation the rent-free use of available space that was not then needed for Academy purposes. Based on the circumstances today, the Academy has determined that the space currently occupied by the Alumni Foundation is needed to advance the Academy’s core academic mission of educating future mariners.