The has begun. Yorktown highway department members are about half way done with tearing down the 14 buildings on the lakeside property.
"We finally got to the point of taking these buildings down," said Yorktown supervisor Michael Grace, who took a turn working the controls of one of the machines on Monday.
The 14-acre property, with entrances on Horton Road, has been an eyesore to the community for years because of its dilapidated and vandalized buildings. Crew members are expected to finish the demolition work by the end of the week.
During a press briefing on Monday, Grace thanked the town workers for doing the job, which was stalled over disagreements of whether the work will be done using municipal labor or outside contractors. He said the highway department employees are "saving the town tens of thousands of dollars."
Officials have budgeted $75,000 for the demolition project, but Grace said the actual cost will be cut in half – to $35,000 – by doing the job in-house. In addition, the administration has spent $68,000 for asbestos removal. The town's previous estimates, using outside contractors, was .
"We knew it could be done," said Yorktown highway superintendent Eric DiBartolo, who praised his employees for doing the demolition work they wouldn't do on a regular basis. "We knew we would come way under budget."
The town purchased the property for $300,000 at a time when the going rate for the property could have been close to $2 million, Grace said. It was last used about 15 to 20 years ago by club members. The town officially acquired the Holland Sporting Club property on May 24, 2005 and determined it as parkland.
The Holland Sporting Club was once an exclusive posh summer resort and weekend getaway. The 14-acre lakeside property on Mohegan Lake, located on a heavily wooded parcel of land, has been subject to vandalism over the years. Graffiti is written all over the buildings by people making their way in despite the "" signs, beer cans, glass and debris have also been scattered about.
The Club dates back to the 1920s, when the property had a hotel, cottages and two clay tennis courts, according to records, on 1,000 feet of lake frontage. In 1915 the property was a resort for the wealthy, called Rock Hill Lodge, and eventually it became one of the last resort hotels in Westchester, housing more than 250 vacationers. ( to read more about its history.)
Yorktown highway department foreman Paul Schields, who has worked for the town for 30 years, said there were still clothes in the closets and even food in the refrigerators in some of the buildings.
There are no immediate plans about what the future of the site would be, but Grace said he wanted to get the community's input. During the press briefing at the site on Monday that selling it to private developers is "always a possibility." He also said a recreational type of use for the property is likely.
"The property opens itself to all sorts of possibilities," Grace said. "It's got a nice flat area on top, you can have ballfields, tennis courts, you can have recreational, you can have a nice restaurant. It's a beautiful piece [of property]."
Walt Daniels, Yorktown resident and co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Opens Space (ACOS), told Patch he was concerned about some possible uses of the property.
"Developing the property through a concession arrangement for swimming, picnicing and boating would be legal," he said. "Any attempt to sell off all or part of the property would be alienation of park land which is both a lengthy process and one which destroys any possibility of the town ever getting state grants for any park purposes."
No matter what the future use, Mohegan Lake residents can breathe a sign of relief for now that the era of an eye sore in their neighborhood is ending.
"Neighbors are delighted, though saddened that these historic buildings were neglected to the point that they needed to be taken down," Mohegan Lake resident Alan Most told Patch.
Let Patch save you time. Get great local stories delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.