Although it is apparently, no longer up, two local newspapers have reported (1, 2), that Fort Ticonderoga is asking the public to keep the fort from shutting down. According to Fred Herbst of Denton Publications:
You have probably seen the headlines. Fort Ticonderoga is in a very difficult financial situation. We don’t want to sell assets. We don’t want to lay off staff. We don’t want to curtail our education programs. We don’t want to close. Without the help of our friends and supporters, however, we may be faced with having to take one or more of these measures.
Fort Ticonderoga’s financial troubles began when benefactors Deborah and Forrest Mars Jr. withdrew their support – it’s been covered at length here.
The original statement continues:
Fort Ticonderoga needs its army of defenders now more than ever. The new Mars Education Center is 95 percent paid for. We have raised and borrowed more than $22 million, but we still need $700,000 to settle the outstanding bills and an additional $3.5 million to repay the loans and replenish our endowment fund.
Herbst revealed more about the details of Forrest Mars conflict with Executive Director Nick Westbrook.
“The ride is over,” he wrote in an Email to Westbrook that was provided to the Times of Ti.
The Email said Westbrook would not listen to new ideas and had stopped communicating with Mrs. Mars, when she was president of the fort board of trustees.
“We will not be writing any further checks,” Mr. Mars wrote. “Your performance as a manager is lacking. As a historian and archivist, etc., you excel. You have not given proper supervision and leadership to the staff.”
Mr. Mars said he and his wife paid for most of the Mars Education Center.
“As far as the new center, I would think that besides not communicating with your president (Mrs. Mars) regarding the opening of it, the exhibits to be in it, the budget for operating it and a program for the future use, you might have been nice enough and polite enough to communicate with the major donor (Mr. Mars),” the Email reads. “Not a word from you to either of us. We do not even know if you can fund it.”
The Email also said Mr. Mars had paid for one of Westbrook’s sons to attend a private school and had paid for vacations for Westbrook and his wife.
The Fort is under threat to close next year or sell off some it collections- Westbrook will be resigning. The fort closes for the season October 20th.
“The fort is running through its available endowment funds to pay the Mars Education Center bills, and, in the absence of a major infusion of funds, the fort will be essentially broke by the end of 2008,” Paine said in the memo.