NORWOOD -- The Grateful Oars Rowing Club has been invited to occupy one of three bays in a boathouse that Clarkson University intends to build next summer.
Clarkson Crew Club’s current building is deteriorating and too small, and enough capital has been raised for the first phase of building a more permanent structure, according to a report from Dick Mooers of the club’s annual meeting Oct. 15.
The GORC board has been monitoring Clarkson’s progress in developing plans for the building and grappling with several issues that need to be resolved before club participation in the new boathouse is ready to be put before the club membership for final approval or disapproval.
A few issues generated the most discussion, Mooers said.
• Autonomy. Although the club’s rowing and instructional programs would continue to be independent from Clarkson, being an occupant of the Clarkson building could mean that the club would lose some of its autonomy. Should GORC later decide that moving in with Clarkson has not benefitted the club, it would have neither its own lease with the village nor its own building. Two long-term club members recalled some difficulties that arose when GORC shared occupancy of its boathouse with the Clarkson club when that club did not have its own building. The relationship lasted only a few years. The aim then would be for the club to have secure, exclusive use of its portion of the proposed boathouse backed by a solid long-term lease negotiated with the university.
• Tenure and cost. GORC would become Clarkson’s tenant for an initial 20-year period, with renewal for a set period of years (currently 10 years). The club would incur an annual cost (in the form of a note to Clarkson) of $1,000 per year for the first 20 years to offset some of Clarkson’s cost of construction. In addition, GORC would pay rent of $1 per year for this initial term and be responsible for their own insurance. It is currently not clear how GORC would fund the annual payment. Mooers said. One possibility is a dues increase of approximately $30 per year. The terms of renewal of the lease with Clarkson beyond the initial 20-year period have not yet been negotiated but are considered by the GORC board to be an important issue. GORC would also be responsible for dismantling and removing material from the GORC boathouse.
• Current lease with the village. The club’s current lease has nine years remaining. Clarkson is trying to obtain a new long-term lease that would include the land that GORC’s boathouse currently occupies. Without our agreement, they will not be able to utilize the GORC space. While details of the current negotiation are not known, village representatives have indicated that they are reluctant to grant a long-term lease on public property to any organization, Mooers reported. If the village is willing, this may also require approval at the state level. Clarkson has indicated that they will not build until a suitable lease with the village has been obtained.
• The buildings. Participation with Clarkson is optional. GORC’s current building potentially has years of useful life remaining. It appears to be feasible to upgrade the floor from sand to concrete or wood, to improve the poor drainage and to upgrade the appearance with new siding material. The Clarkson boathouse would provide GORC with a dryer, cleaner, and somewhat larger area with better lighting, better security, and a solid, level floor. It may be possible to store more boats in the current GORC boathouse by rearranging racks, but the proposed Clarkson boathouse would easily allow for an expansion of the GORC fleet. A firm, level floor would make it easier to work on boats needing repair, which now requires much of the work to be done underneath boats in poor light and on sand. Should GORC decide to accept the university’s proposal, it would also share in future improvements.
If the club decides not to participate, Clarkson would build a smaller structure and GORC would continue to row out of its present facility, unchanged and, potentially, unaffected by anything that Clarkson might build. If Clarkson can work out its arrangement with Norwood, construction would take place next season, which would complicate GORC programs but not prevent them, whether or not GORC goes in with the university. Mooers said the club understands that the university would like to complete construction within 45 days of beginning the work, probably in early fall.
The members present voted 13 in favor and 2 opposed that the club board of directors should continue to investigate and consider the pros and cons of club participation with Clarkson and to present the proposal to the full membership for approval or disapproval once the project is fully understood.
Meanwhile, during the last rowing season, seven people completed the club’s Learn to Row Program.
Allyson Randolph, Becky Graham, Coreen Bohl, Janice Westerling, Shari Gilman, Teresa Corbin and Tom Chappell completed the full program, starting in June with U.S. Rowing Association’s Learn to Row Day.
The majority of instruction was by Amy (Ye) Yao, a coxswain with St. Lawrence University’s varsity crews. The LTR crew rowed the club’s Dirigo 8 By George on Mondays with Pat Luppens and Dick Mooers spelling each other in the roles of mentor and substitute cox. Joe Vitale captained a Thursday evening row in August, with Coreen, Janice, Theresa and Tom taking advantage of the added instruction. Several club members volunteered at LTR Day and as subs in July and August.