Why fix something just because it’s broke?

Cos Cob Boat Club members arrive for annual meeting

Cos Cob Boat Club members arrive for annual commissioning

Once again, another town non-profit has run up against the demand of certain RTM members to have a town-wide, uniform policy for the $1 a year leases we grant to various clubs and organizations. Last night it was the Mianus Boat Club’s turn, as the RTM rejected an extension of their lease not, according to at least some of the opponents, because of any animus toward the club, but because Greenwich has no uniform rules for these type of lease arrangements and it’s time we did. My response? Eh.

Other than the desire for orderly direction that some people suffer from, what’s wrong with the current non-policy? The club pays a buck (plus capital improvements since 1983 of $800,000), the town foregoes what one RTM member estimated was $14,500 in market value rent and in return gets a facility for town residents that would cost the town $150,000 to operate itself. The club’s open to all residents, so we don’t have a situation where a few select people gain a benefit at the expense of others, and we gain an amenity for our waterfront town that’s scarce: a place for townies to enjoy and access the Sound.

But if we need a policy so that accountant types can sleep at night then fine, let’s do it. What we have now is a practice where every couple of years one of these arrangements comes up for review, the process is held hostage while demands for a strict rule are aired and, when nothing is done, no uniform policy enacted, the issue recedes until the next time. Seems like a waste of energy to me.

15 Comments

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15 responses to “Why fix something just because it’s broke?

  1. Teri Buhl

    Anyone see the Frontline film I was in last night called The Untouchables. It was about the Bear Stearns traders fraud and how the DOJ had a ton of evidence but no one has been charged with criminal intent

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/untouchables/

  2. My vote for best article picture choice of the year!

  3. AndyD

    Is it really open to all town residents? Wow, I thought it was private. Are you sure I don’t need a last name that ends in a vowel to join?

    They “own” a significant number of boat slips, including some very large ones. 2 or 3 of those slips alone would bring in the $15k rent cited in the article.

    I dropped a friend off at their dock once to catch a train back to NYC and two members scolded me for using their private property. I wish i had known the town owns it. Hey, more power to them, i’m just jealous.

  4. dogwalker

    AndyD, I had a similar experience over at the one on Grass Island. Cold, drizzly spring morning . . . nobody in sight . . . only one car in the parking lot . . . I’m walking the dog along the driveway . . . she’s not doing any “business” at all, not even a little marking, and we’re walking on gravel, in any event. She’s just anxious to get over to the stone wall by the water because she had bagged a rat there several weeks earlier . . . always great rat hunting back behind that place! Some guy yells from his boat that the dog park is “over that way”. I ignore him, so he keeps yelling. I point out that I am on town property. He screams that the town has nothing to do with it. Anyway, I decided not to press the matter further as the guy was clearly unstable. Geesh, I thought that idea of working on your boat was that it made you feel better. Hope the poor guy has figured out that yelling at women won’t help his ED.

  5. dogwalker

    Oh, as long as I’m at it . . . and a more legitimate complaint . . .

    I’m walking the dog another day, and it seems the club on Grass Island is renting out their facilities for some sort of boating event. Not just my conjecture . . . one of their members [another jerk who insists on shoving their dog in my dog's face despite being told that my dog is not friendly] complains about no access to his club. I questioned whether the town gets a cut of that income. Again, I am told that the town has nothing to do with the club. Okay, I can go along with the way these clubs function, for the most part, but if they are using town property to make money, that IS something that needs fixing, IMHO.

  6. Georgie

    CF….c’mon you spend countless blog posts railing against the “entitled” folks at the national level living on the tit of the government who believe they “deserve” the gimme-handouts because the dirty rich owe it to them. And, then in a flash, you support at the local level the poor (in this case poor is defined as owning a 30′ yacht!) deserving the continued subsidy of $1 year lease on their yacht club.

    I believe the Town has the same deal for all the yacht clubs in Town. Does this sound like a fair amount at a time when we are cutting schools budget, postponing sewer projects, deferring other essential maintenance? BTW, I don’t believe the subsidy is a mere $14K…..that number must not include a whole heck of a lot in opportunity-cost revenue. I wonder how much they charge for a boat slip versus market rate in the marina?

  7. Georgie

    Chris, thanks for the info with the other yacht clubs.

    I wonder how much turnover there is with the boat slips allowing new(er) residents to have a chance to dock?

  8. JustSaying

    Are the accounts of all these ‘subsidized’ clubs open to the RTM and public?

  9. Neither Byram nor Old Greenwich have “club” boat slips. As I understood the Mianus club’s officers, they own and control no boat slips. Atty Fox now has the investigation underway. Byram is different because the “club” was gifted to the members by the Ritch Bros Quarry before the land of Byram Park was given to the Town. To my knowledge, the Byram club pays $10K to the Town for its club use of the storage area. There is a question as to whether the Byram Club is the title holder and owner of this same yard area, posted as “members only.”

    The Town deserves to have a transparent disclosure of the assets leased for $1 per year, including who pays for improvements and maintenance, including appurtenant interests of parking, dredging, slips, moorings, etc.

  10. Anonymous

    So now we know that there are douches in town beyond the much maligned and often pilloried blonde Escalade drivers with the private school eurostickers.

  11. anonymous

    The issue is whether or not this club controls boat slips or not. The building is worthless.

  12. GreenITCH

    CF you are oddly silent on this issue .. although i will give you credit for posting the story .. i mean as such a Libertarian id think you at least would suggest town rent at a fair market price ? i mean as well the fees the town charges boat owners are RIDICULOUSLY cheap … seems we could syphon off some of this money and perhaps patch the pool !

  13. Cos Cob Coot

    This is why responsible government is hamstrung in Greenwich: Enforced ignorance. Myth and prejudice weigh more than research and informed opinion. SNAFU.

    The Boat Clubs neither own nor administer the dockage adjacent to their club houses. All income goes to the Town Parks and Rec Dept, which on behalf of the Bd. of Selectmen, sets fees and assigns slips. just as they do for all municipal slips. Rather than derive income from the slips, it is more often that these clubs have built the docks and donated them to the Town as they do with all other capital improvements which they create.

    In all cases these clubs were “given” a dirt waste lot of a few thousand square feet (MRYBC has 4,500 total lease hold). In all cases they have substantially improved an eyesore. MRYBC is next to a sewage drying shed. OGBC is a patch of beach sand (and now must rebuild their Sandy destroyed clubhouse). Greenwich Boat Club is situated next to the Town Sewer Plant and the Marine maintenance shed. ALL “Prime” and attractive market rate water front?

    MRYBC has donated over $700,000 in cash and several million dollars in physical construction and capital assets over the period of their tenancy.
    As with the other clubs, it also provides thousands of dollars in service and security for which the Town would have to fund and employ extra employees.

    My name does not “end in a vowel” and I neither walk or abuse dogs,
    although I have often stepped in the results of dog walking.

    Thank you, Chris, for standing up for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.