Cromwell Votes Yes on Boat Club Lease
CROMWELL - The Cromwell Outboard Association has secured the five-year extension of its town property lease by way of Tuesday’s referendum-a landslide in favor of keeping the nonprofit boat club at its 2 River Road home.

       The vote-914 to 425 in favor of renewing the lease-ended months of open ended discussion regarding the “best use” of the property.

       “I was amazed with the level of support we got from the town’s people,” said Association Commodore Al Waters, also a member of the Town Council. “It was heartwarming to get that kind of support.”

       The Association, led by Waters, sought the extension as a Council-appointed subcommittee chaired by Councilor Ed Wenners reviewed its options and sought input from the public.

       “It would have been nice to see more options, but in the end we came to a conclusion and at least now we can move on,” said Mayor Enzo Faienza over the phone Wednesday morning.

       The process that was laid out initially would have had the subcommittee compile its findings from public hearings and make a formal recommendation to the Council-one that they would have been able to take or leave. But around the middle of October, Waters and the Association submitted a petition to call a town-wide meeting for consideration of an outright renewal of the lease.

       At the time, Faienza criticized the move, saying that it jumped the subcommittee process and ultimately narrowed the scope of consideration to the single question of the lease’s renewal. He and other Councilors then suggested moving the matter to referendum, in an effort to maximize turnout.

       Waters said that he had proposed the town-wide meeting format to cut down on the costs associated with holding a referendum.

       “The best way to handle it was through a referendum,” Faienza said Wednesday. “It gave more voters a chance to come out, and that’s democracy.”

       Waters agreed.

       “All parties were heard, one way or another,” Waters said. “The Town Council wanted everyone’s opinion, and they got it.”

       Waters took issue, however, with the conditions of the impending renewal-which will reflect the six-month extension that cost the Association $1500 total, but the language of the referendum question reflected how the petition submitted by the boat club was written, Faienza said.

       The lease is set to expire at the end of the year.

       “They worded it,” Faienza said. “They made it so specific, that it applied to the amended lease.”

       That was a six-month extension costing the club a $1500 total, which doubles to $3000 over the course of a single year.

       Under previous conditions-the lease the Association has had for 20 years-the club was charged $500 per year, with members performing maintenance work at the property.

       Waters said that the new increase may impact the Association’s ability to make its yearly donations to various organizations in town.

       “The boat club got the short end of the paddle,” Waters said.

       But Faienza said that the issue is a byproduct of a “rushed” process.

       “The way it was worded was really black and white,” he said. “They wrote the question-they should have known what they were writing.”

       “The petition that was submitted was for a town meeting, not a referendum,” Waters said.

       The club’s bid to remain at the property received widespread support-expressed mostly through a jam packed public meeting held a couple of months ago in the Town Hall auditorium. Although the meeting was attended by mostly boat club members-some of which did not live in Cromwell-all of the residents who spoke urged the subcommittee to recommend that the lease be renewed.

      
STORY BY MARK DIPAOLA   |  Nov 22 2016  |  COMMENTS?