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Letter: Croton Yacht Club Aids Bulkhead Project

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – TheDailyCroton.com accepts original, signed letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to jglenza@mainstreetconnect.us.

Letter to the Editor:

The members of the Croton Yacht Club would like to take this opportunity to address the village board and residents of the community concerning the club's responsibilities associated with the proposed bulkhead replacement project. The bulkhead is the steel retaining wall which surrounds the southern, western and northern boundaries of the “Village Dock” parcel of the property owned by the village and leased by the Yacht Club. The bulkhead is not to be confused with the breakwater wall that protects the boats that are moored within the basin.

The bulkhead protects the property from the erosive forces of the river tides and currents. Bulkheads provide maximum access and use of waterfront property for recreational and commercial purposes. The original bulkhead, installed in the late 1800s, was constructed of wood and was replaced in the early 1950s with the existing steel bulkhead. The majority of the existing steel bulkhead was tied to and supported by the original wooden bulkhead. The existing bulkhead has far exceeded its normal and expected design life, and areas of corrosion and erosion have combined to raise the probability of a catastrophic failure.

Since May 2008, the Yacht Club as tenant has kept the village fully informed of the condition of the bulkhead and has worked side by side in the engineering and permitting process, offering ideas and suggestions to reduce costs and streamline processes. The Yacht Club also wrote and submitted documentation for a $1.1 million grant to offset the cost of the bulkhead replacement. The club recently performed test borings to satisfy permitting requirements, saving the village an additional $10,000 in contractor costs.

An assertion has been made that the Yacht Club is or should be responsible for the bulkhead replacement according to the lease language which reads, “The Club, in its capacity as tenant, shall take good care of the demised premises and shall be responsible for its maintenance and repair, including maintenance and repair of all alterations, additions, and improvements.” That assertion is a misrepresentation of the definition of the word “repair.” “Repair” does not mean the replacement of an asset which has exceeded its normal life expectancy and existed prior to the formation of the club in 1957 and also preceded the lease agreement for the Village Dock parcel in 1979.

Factually, the lease further states: “The Village, as landowner, shall remain liable for damages and obligations not resulting from the Club’s use of the premises.” The deteriorated condition of the bulkhead is not the result of the Club’s use of the premises but the result of the influence of natural and unnatural corrosive processes combined with the destructive forces of the river.

In our opinion, the Yacht Club has exceeded its responsibility as a tenant by making extensive repairs and improvements to mitigate erosion along the bulkhead, thereby extending the life of this asset. The club has expended $30,000 in capping the perimeter of the bulkhead in concrete, installing a gabion wall and a pedestrian walkway for residents to enjoy fishing and crabbing. In 2010 and 2011 the club spent an additional $15,000 in repairing sinkholes and temporary shoring of the wall to prevent further erosion and collapse of the wall. These expenses were fully funded by the club and no reimbursement was requested from the village.Despite these mitigation measures, erosion of landfill through corrosion holes in the steel have created multiple sinkholes along the west wall, increasing the potential of a collapse. Recently, this entire area was fenced off for safety and closed to pedestrian access. Additional repairs are no longer economically or structurally feasible. A catastrophic failure of the bulkhead into the river will result in an environmental situation that will require immediate remediation whose cost will far exceed the cost of a scheduled replacement.

The preferred design recommended by the engineering consultant retained by the village suggests the over-sheeting of the existing bulkhead with coated steel cathodically protected, designed to last a minimum of 50 years. Other design options were explored, including composite sheeting and rock revetment walls, which were not recommended for this project.

In addition to the aforementioned bulkhead-related expenses, the club has invested an additional $500,000 in property improvements over the past six years at no cost to the village. These projects include the boat launch ramp replacement, installation of a sediment retention wall, replacement of a 70-foot section of seawall and the replacement of the breakwater structural steel, which not only protects the marina but also Elliott Way and Senasqua Park from erosion.

The Yacht Club has become an integral part of the fabric of this community and greatly influences its culture, history and economy. Our annual economic value to the community is approximately $245,000 ($55,000 in rent, taxes and services plus $190,000 spent on goods and services by the Yacht Club, its members and guests).

The Yacht Club is committed to working with the village to realize a cost-effective solution to this situation. We strongly urge the village board to re-evaluate the current conditions of the bulkhead and the consequences of continued landfill erosion and/or a catastrophic failure. We further suggest that necessary funding be approved for the expeditious completion of the project so that full functionality of the property will be restored.

Sincerely,The Croton Yacht Club Board of DirectorsBob Bruce, CommodoreDennis Kooney, DirectorRobert Dusconi, DirectorKenneth Gabrielsen, DirectorSteve Cappelli, Director

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