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Ossining Boat and Canoe Club Fights to Save Space

The Ossining Boat and Canoe Club is concerned about their future, as the town considers putting a restaurant in their building.
The Ossining Boat and Canoe Club is concerned about their future, as the town considers putting a restaurant in their building. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ossining Boat and Canoe Club

OSSINING, N.Y.-- The Ossining Boat and Canoe Club is going on the offensive, hoping to prevent the Town of Ossining from putting in a restaurant by its space and taking away its  winter storage at Engel Park.

The Ossining Boat and Canoe Club had operated under a license agreement with the town, which owns the parkland and building.

In July, at a town hall meeting, Supervisor Susanne Donnelly proposed a short-term license agreement to take hold on Oct. 31 that the club fears will take away its last remaining area of winter boat storage.

"The move threatens the club's age old-tradition of being known as the last place to learn about boating," the club said in a press release. "This will possibly force some to sell their boats and get out of boating."

Donnelly said the town will undertake a feasibility study to look at opening up a restaurant by the waterfront and replacing the clubhouse, which the club opposes.

“We aren’t against change,” said the club’s Commodore, Tom Earle. “However, the proposal to take away our last small bit of winter boat storage is unnecessary, and it will have a near immediate negative impact on our membership numbers, and on the character and nature of our operation.”

Earle said club members plan to make their voices heard at the town board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 1.

"We are going to have questions about the future of this club," Earle said. "The success of this restaurant is not guaranteed. This is about what is best for the waterfront."

Earle believes the character and nature of the working class club would be changed by having a high-end restaurant next door.

"We're a bunch of do-it-yourselfers," Earle said. "We maintain the building, dock and the moorings. This would make club."

In her supervisor's update sent out on Friday, Donnelly addressed the boat club issue, though she said she had no comment on the press release sent out by the club.

Donnelly said the town-owned building is an area of excessive flooding, according to flood plain maps from FEMA.

"The building is the responsibility of the Town of Ossining, and we must consider our liability in the event of an emergency, be it physical, structural or otherwise," Donnelly said.

Donnelly said they are looking at revenue sources that would bring property tax revenue to the town, with a restaurant on the second level, established via public/private partnership.

"Our goal is to make sure the residents of Ossining have as much access to the Hudson River as possible," Donnelly said. " We are looking to work closely with the membership of the Ossining Boat and Canoe Club and, with their help, design what the first floor of the building would look like."

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