Six years after the town officially acquired the property and deemed it as parkland, board members decided last week to borrow $250,000 to knock down the 11 buildings on site.
The Holland Sporting Club was once an exclusive posh summer resort and weekend getaway. Now the 14-acre lakeside property on Mohegan Lake, located on a heavily wooded parcel of land, is not maintained, the grass is unmowed, beer cans, glass and debris are scattered about. Graffiti is written all over the buildings by people making their way in despite the "" signs.
Residents who live in the area of the club have been speaking to town board members and asking them to find a solution for the deteriorating town-owned property.
Patrick Cumiskey who lives across the street from the property on Horton Drive, described it as an "incredible piece of property with beautiful views" which has unfortunately been subject to vandalism, drinking and drug use by teens. The man has been vocal about the town taking action to deal with the problem.
The father of three children said a group of teens parked in his driveway last Wednesday, and with blunts in their hands walked toward the secluded property. But after he confronted them, they left. This is what he deals with on a regular basis.
He and a few other residents in the area have also threatened to sue the town. They are afraid someone could seriously get injured because the buildings are not sound and safe. Alan Most of Decatur Drive said the town could possibly be as well as state codes, such as keeping yards, courts, and vacant lots free of physical hazards; and maintaining all exterior property and premises.
"The problem there has existed for five years, plus, and it's getting worse," Most said.
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.
As club members were getting older, they started to fall behind on their taxes, and the next generation wasn't interested in the property, town clerk Alice Roker said. In March 1994, the town, the Club and the Westchester Land Trust made an agreement that once all members of the club passed away, the town would acquire the property. The town officially acquired the property on May 24, 2005 and determined it as parkland, according to records.
Since the acquisition, the property was left to deteriorate.
Cumiskey, a construction project manager, presented a demolition study to board members last week. The estimated cost if the work is done with an outside contractor is between $213,000 and $243,000, and if town employees were to do the work, it would cost approximately $118,000.
Town board members approved to add the project to their list of an estimated at $1.3 million worth of planned capital projects. Supervisor Susan Siegel said the bond would cost the typical homeowner about $13 a year.
The Holland sporting club would have qualified for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), town planner John Tegeder told board members last week, but board members decided they didn't want to wait. The deadline to apply for the grant, Tegeder said, is June 1 and the funding wouldn't be available until May, 2012. The town would not be eligible to be reimbursed for the work done now.
When the board approved to add the project to their capital projects list, about 10 to 15 residents in the audience applauded that decision.
"I never believed it's a done deal," Cumiskey said. "And I won't stop my pursuit of this being completed until the excavator and bulldozer are done."
He said he will continue to apply pressure on the town until the end. He wants to make sure the town advertises the bids for asbestos and demolition and gets the cheapest price.