A plan to bring a first-rate college rowing and sailing facility to a property formerly used as a beach club is moving ahead.
Community Board 10’s Housing and Zoning Committee voted unanimously to approve a plan initiated by an anonymous group of Fordham University alumni to purchase the former Westchester Country Club Association waterfront club in Country Club and turn it over to the university for use by the school’s sailing and crew teams.
The committee vote took place on Thursday, March 12, and there will be a public hearing in coming months that will allow the public to weigh in on the matter, said Matt Cruz, CB 10 district manager. The date and time of that hearing are still to be announced.
Cruz said that the community and committee were generally supportive of the idea, pending the outcome of the public hearing.
The sale of the property is still pending. The buyer is seeking a zoning variance at the Board of Standards and Appeals that would allow the university to operate a rowing and sailing team in a R2 residential zone.
The community board favors the sale because it would prevent the development of housing at the attractive site at 3341 Country Club Road.
The one building presently occupying the property was heavily damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and will need to undergo major renovations or be replaced with a similar-sized structure.
Following the curtailment of WCCA activities, the property sat vacant. The club’s remaining membership were unable to keep up with the real estate taxes, according to multiple sources.
The lawyer representing Fordham Waterfront Holdings said at the board meeting that the planned improvements would include a floating dock to replace the stationary one.
He said that the property’s use would essentially remain the same, recreational, with the bulk of its activities taking place in the fall and spring months.
Country Club Civic Association’s president, Arlene Grauer, said that the homeowner group was supportive of the concept, and just wants to know a bit more about the specifics of the sale.
“We would like to know a little bit more about the deal itself,” said Grauer. “We welcome the Fordham crew and sailing teams, and think that they would be good neighbors.”
Grauer said that bringing the Fordham teams to Country Club could present an opportunity for local youth to be exposed to the sports of sailing and crew.
Stephen Kaufman, an attorney with a practice in Throggs Neck, represented the beach club, and spent two and a half years hammering out the deal.
He called the deal a ‘triple home run’ for the community, bringing in an attractive use that would have little to no impact on the residential neighborhood, while bailing out the WCCA from the likelihood of foreclosure.
“I think the community board was extremely astute in recognizing that this would be a wonderful addition to the community,” said Kaufman. “You are going to have a prestigious university with a rowing and sailing facility in our community.”
He added that the zoning exemption being sought would be limited to Fordham University’s sole use.
“I feel optimistic about it,” said Kaufman. “It is nice to see the community get good things.”