The Cold Spring Village Board has been wrestling for weeks with language in a lease with the Boat Club of a prime riverfront parcel owned by the village. The lease, signed in 2003, runs for 20 years, but says (section 18): “In the event the property or any part thereof is appropriated, condemned or in any way removed from the ownership of the landlord, then the loss of such part or entire premises shall cause the lease to be terminated and neither party shall have any further right or claim as against the other.”
Some maintain that this really means that if the building is condemned and demolished the loss shall not cause the lease to be terminated. Go figure.
Luckily, with the trustees’ letter approving demolition of the boat club building (so the toxic coal tar under it can be removed) now winging its way to the DEC, the boat club has realized it didn’t want the old lease anyway. Why would anyone want to lease an empty plot of land, even if it is free? And so now the trustees are laboring to come up with lease language so that after the cleanup the boat club will rebuild what it has now.
This is the classic error of asking the wrong question. The question is not, “What lease agreement should we have with the boat club to allow them to rebuild?” but “What use should the village make of that prime waterfront site, acknowledging that a part of that use must be to accommodate the boat club?” The difference is crucial.
The Comprehensive Plan, adopted in January 2012, directly addresses this question:
2.2.3 Recommendation: In the event that the DEC and the Village agree to remove contamination below the building and it is torn down, re-think the uses of the entire property from the river to Market Street, while ensuring that a reconstructed Boat Club facility is a part of the resulting plan.
The Village Board is bound by the Comprehensive Plan to ensure that the village “re-think(s) the uses of the entire property from the river to Market Street.” To that end, on Jan. 20, I asked Mayor Falloon if it would be helpful for the Special Board to organize a working group made up of resident boat club members, Special Board members, and other interested residents to develop options for the site, present them to the public for debate and discussion, and frame recommendations for the Village Board.
The Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan/LWRP has done this many times, I pointed out, and generated concept plans for Dockside, the Village Garage site, Marathon, and others. He answered yes, and the Special Board proceeded accordingly with a vote at its Jan. 23 meeting.
I was disappointed to find, then, at the Jan. 28 Village Board meeting, with Mayor Falloon absent due to illness, that the trustees still seem to be stuck asking a question about lease language. They may come up with a clever answer, but it will be to the wrong question.
Chair, Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan/LWRP