Letter: Time to Cancel Boat Club Lease

Cold Spring Boat Club (Photo by Liz Shevtchuk Armstrong)

This letter, dated Sept. 18, was sent to Cold Spring Mayor Dave Merandy and Village Clerk Mary Saari. The authors provided a copy to Philipstown.info.

We are the Cold Spring Waterfront Coalition and write with the fervent hope that you both will continue to advocate for a pleasant and peaceful waterfront experience for all residents of the Village of Cold Spring. In particular, we are seeking your support and assistance regarding the Cold Spring Boat Club.

For eight months a year, a large prime portion of Village-owned waterfront land is transformed into an industrial outdoor storage yard for large boats, rusted pipes, used tires, rusty rims, a growing number of wooden docks and two cranes.

While most members of the Boat Club are required to store their boats off-site during the winter months, more than a small few are allowed (for a sublet fee, and profit, paid to the Boat Club) to use the Village property as their personal storage facility. Storage rights never were within the generous spirit and dictates of their one-dollar-a-year lease with the Village.

The Cold Spring Boat Club, center of a proposed coal tar clean-up effort.

The Cold Spring Boat Club (file photo)

All of this is in full view of the residents of West Street, Main Street and New Street and those in the Village who appreciate the peace and beauty of our Village waterfront park.

Beyond the obvious safety concerns associated with unsecured docks stacked in 15-foot piles — it appears that the Village turns a blind eye to the unsightly and irresponsible nature of the Boat Club facility for September, October, November, December, January, February, March and April — approximately eight months of the calendar year.

Additionally, it is environmentally unsafe for the Boat Club to function as a storage facility for boats with gas in their tanks given the proximity to a public park frequented by children and high school students.

The docks are an “attractive nuisance” and belong off-site in a storage yard. We’ve obtained estimates that range from $200 to $400 monthly. Alternately, there is ample safe and secure storage with the Village vehicles behind the River View Restaurant.  This additional courtesy from the Village would represent yet another windfall for the Boat Club. The current scenario exists because it is the “easiest” and “cheapest” way for the Boat Club to give the least and take the most.

Three years ago, we below the train tracks endured the flooding of our homes from Hurricane Sandy (one of the “stored” boats drifted and came  close to colliding with one of our homes) and we rebuilt. To commemorate this, two of our residents had the West Street lanterns fabricated in New Orleans and donated them to the Village. Now we’re bracing ourselves for the unpleasantness and toxicity of the DEA Coal Tar clean up, in our front and backyards.

You are both now well aware that last Saturday, Sept. 12, the Boat Club had a late-night bonfire on the ground (yet another unconscionable lease violation) close to the boat house with flames climbing six feet high. Among the burning materials (from the boat club building itself) was wood processed with glue which is toxic when burned. More lease violations: alcoholic beverages were clearly onsite, as they were the previous Saturday along with yet another bonfire and loud music.

The morning after (photo provided)

The morning after (photo provided)

This time, the police showed up around 11 p.m. After the police left, the “party” resumed until approximately 2 a.m., with members “scooping the loop,” running stop signs and belligerently honking their horns.

These are just a few of the many, many asinine, dangerous and untenable occurrences over many years. After almost nine years, the Boat Club is in denial that we are a residential neighborhood and deeply ensconced community.  They seemingly live in the past and mean-spiritedly long for the days when our neighborhood was a lumber yard.

Bottom line: The Village of Cold Spring owns the property currently utilized for the sole purpose of a “members-only” club. Beyond the obviously awkward nature of this relationship during an unprecedented time of open government and Village resources not being restricted to a small few, we expect the Village to protect the waterfront for everyone. We pay Village taxes and are happy to contribute to the extension of the waterfront park.

We respectfully and vehemently urge you to eliminate all current and future legal exposure to the Village and have the Boat Club remove all docks, cranes, etc. now and cancel the Boat Club lease.

We love Cold Spring and thank you in advance for your swift action.

Cold Spring Waterfront Coalition

Tom & Rachel Kelly
Tom Todoroff & Emily Moulton
Abbey & Claire Greenlaw
Jean Pierre & Rita Seibel
Sean Tortora & Jennifer O’Toole
Bob & Heather Palumberi


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5 thoughts on “Letter: Time to Cancel Boat Club Lease

  1. There is so much wrong with this letter that it’s hard to know where to start.

    What it is sure to do is stir up emotions when it would be better for people to try to live together amicably.

    Yes, the site is not neat as a pin. It’s a boat club, not a living room. Cranes are a necessary part of putting boats into the river.

    It’s a membership organization, but membership is open to village & town residents. Visiting boats traveling on the Hudson are permitted to tie up at the docks. The boat club for many years has been generous in allowing one of my favorite community organizations, Building Bridges Building Boats, to use the docks during some of their summer rowing programs.

    The boat club has parties, but so does every other local organization from time to time. The club members are hardly the only ones in town who “scoop the loop” honking — that’s an old Cold Spring tradition!

    As for the neighborhood being residential, that’s partly true, but it is also partly commercial, and full of tourists many months of the year. Various organizations hold concerts and other events at the bandstand and on the waterfront dock. To focus on the boat club as the source of noise and activity in a “residential” neighborhood is misleading and unfair.

    As for the coal-tar cleanup, one can hardly blame that on the boat club.

    Cold Spring is a river town. River towns should have access to the river for all kinds of boats. It’s a great tradition that should continue.

  2. Wow. I’m shocked that you did not notice the Boat Club when you moved in! Such an eyesore must have been noticeable. Did they only start having parties and storing docks after you moved in? The Realtor did not tell you about the street flooding? During Sandy, boats floated away all up and down the Hudson. I am willing to bet that nobody let their boat float away on purpose.

    You end with “We love Cold Spring,” but it sounds like you love Cold Spring if you can change it to your idea of what it should be, not what it is. (Disclosure: I am not a member of the Boat Club.)

  3. I was born and raised in Cold Spring and the Boat Club has been there since I remember. I went there with my father about 60 years ago. The Boat Club, Riverview Inn, the dock, occasional flooding and all of the other local quirks are what make Cold Spring, Cold Spring.

    All of you were aware of the Boat Club and the festivities that take place at the water front. The boat storage and floating docks are contained and the facilities maintained by folks who were here long before you.

    Why do you recent residents (transplants) want to find fault and transform Cold Spring into what you came here to escape? Like the group that wanted Philipstown to blacktop the dirt roads.

    Coalition members, take pause and read the comments above. Then, think about what you’re saying.

  4. I was not born or raised here in Philipstown and don’t really know anything about the Boat Club. I have lived in Garrison for more than 10 years. I have had two other wonderful homes in my 75 years, but in no other village did the residents of either ever consider recent residents to be “transplants.” There is an attitude here that is not always welcoming or very positive. It needs an adjustment. A hundred years of tradition unhampered by progress is not always a great thing.

  5. Having grown up in rural Kansas, I am very familiar with the cautious attitudes of long-term residents regarding the social mores of their locale. This is not necessarily an assessment of Cold Springers as “unwelcoming,” but rather a sign of their resistance to change of accepted traditions when voiced by those who are unfamiliar with these traditions, or perhaps who desire to modify their new environment to fit their perspective of normalcy.

    Ten years before I bought my land in Philipstown, I subscribed to the local paper in order to educate myself about the community. Along the same line of thinking, I always buy a guide book for whatever U.S. city or other country that I visit. I have found it invaluable to inform myself of the behavioral standards, as well as rules and regulations of any unfamiliar place. It keeps me out of trouble by preventing discord caused by simple misunderstandings.

    I want to offer my appreciation to Philipstown.info for providing this online forum for us to share our differences. Progress is not always positive, but with the ability to communicate and discuss these issues, we have the opportunity to learn how to get along!