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Madison Beach Hotel Discussing Land Rental With Beach & Recreation Commission

Initial discussions mention the possibility of $11,000 compensation, but no agreement has been reached, town officials say.

 

Madison resident Walter Lippman Monday night said he objects to a proposal being considered by town officials to rent a grassy strip of land to the Madison Beach Hotel for $11,000 a year.

"$11,000 just doesn't cut it," Lippmann said during the public comment section of a Board of Selectmen meeting at town campus. He said he objected to it not only because it wasn't enough money, but also because he was concerned that the town leave itself open to liability claims if there is a problem on that piece of property.

Lippmann also said that the hotel, which has undergone a multi-year renovation and rebuilding process, promised it would repave Parker Avenue, which runs behind the hotel, after the project was done. Hotel officials have set the latest opening date for May 1, 2012, after many delays.

"Parker Avenue was supposed to be repaved and as of 22 minutes ago, it was not repaved," Lippmann said, during the meeting. He asked the selectmen to make sure that the hotel fulfill all of their obligations.

Lippmann asked the Board of Selectmen to bring any decisions relating to the hotel before town meeting.

Selectman Joe MacDougald said he too was troubled by the idea of the "land lease," as described by Lippmann.

First Selectman Fillmore McPherson said it was "not a land lease as such. Beach & Recreation is in discussion with the hotel about a rental, just like they rent out the Surf Club for weddings."

"I would posit it isn't like renting the Surf Club. I'd like to see that come before the board [of Selectmen]" MacDougald said.

McPherson said following the meeting that Beach & Recreation was in discussions with Madison Beach Hotel to rent the little grassy strip adjacent to hotel property for $11,000, but that there has been no agreement. When asked whether such a deal would have to come before the Board of Selectmen, McPherson said he thought it would.

Discussions with Madison Beach Hotel about the grassy strip have been the subject of several discussions and a town meeting. On October 26, 2009, voters in town were asked the town should give Madison Beach Hotel approximately 10,716 square feet of property next to hotel property, including "a portion of the grass area to the south of the Madison Beach Hotel property" and "a strip of land which is approximately 40 feet wide extending to he mean high water mark on the west side of West Wharf Beach" in exchange for the Fish House building at 91 West Wharf Road, which included more than 11,000 square feet and 102 feet of waterfront.

Madison residents voted against that proposal, 1,539 to 1,245, with about 20 percent of the town turning out.

More recently, in June 2011, the town discussed with the hotel the possibility of a deal that would allow Madison Beach Hotel, through a long-term lease or other means, to obtain and use the town-owned grassy area in front of the hotel. In exchange, Madison Beach Hotel would give the town $100,000 and a triangular-shaped property adjacent to West Wharf Beach.

Lily N. April 10, 2012 at 11:55 AM
there is no way that out town should succumb to the idea of renting giving or exchanging that piece of grassy land to the Madison Beach Hotel. I hope Mr. Lippman continues in his opposition of this, and remains the voice for our towns people.
RickC April 10, 2012 at 12:15 PM
I have no objection whatsoever to the town renting or leasing the grass strip. In fact I was one of the 1245 that voted in favor of the original "land swap." Why encumber the hotel merely out of spite? When is the last time you, or any other town resident, used the grass strip? The beach area in front of the dunes should remain public property, but the hotel could put to good use the grass area in a way the town never has or will.
Jim Rinere April 10, 2012 at 12:17 PM
it is virtually impossible to run a business in the state of connecticut and madison needs some responsible corporate citizens and revenue - we, the town, should figure out a way to help the MBH be successful and thrive. if that includes renting a strip of land that can be used for people to enjoy the best of our shoreline - then we should figure it out. as long as it is treated responsibly and that the nature isn't spolied, etc... but, the people of madison should try to see that our small village businesses are disappearing - that's why our rt.1 strip is lined with real estate offices and banks - while those businesses are important - it is not what will bring recurring revenue into our town.
Bonnie McManamy April 10, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I have to agree with Jim Rinere and Rick Camp. My first reaction to this rental of property is a reactionary one of 'don't trespass on MY land', but the truth is that this is not leaving our hands, it will enhance the use of of MBH without taking any use from us, and it is incumbent upon us to support businesses in this town. Having the MBH successful will bring much needed business to Madison. I agree that we should rent the property.
Stay Sea April 10, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I agree with Lily N. Hasn't the hotel ruined the look and feel of the area already? By the way.....where will all the patrons park????
mary michel April 10, 2012 at 12:33 PM
What is the environmental impact on the land ? Oil and grease from the bottom of the cars and more ! Let us keep the area as 'green' as possible, comment by realtors not withstanding.
tom burland April 10, 2012 at 01:16 PM
I am in favor of a creative deal allowing access to the grassy strip in front of the hotel at a reasonable rate for the ability of the town to "extend" the town beach at west wharf to include the area in front of the fish house. If i am not mistaken for years the madison beach hotel used that strip of land with no financial remuneration to the town. Lets not hold them hostage, we need to be business friendly. The reason the last deal fell through was town officials through in the beach in from of the hotel too, in a town like ours giving beach away makes no sense and the folks got the vote out. After spending $9mm on the swamp we had better be business friendly and make sure this hotel, who pays a lot of taxes, is successful. Otherwise an even greater tax burden falls on us
Charles April 10, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I think we need to be careful of this red herring. The real issue is where will everyone park? Was down at MBH last week and there doesn't seem to be enough parking. There was talk of allowing the patrons to park at the Surf Club, but who wants to park 1/2 mile away and walk back and forth? One needs a permit to park at West Wharf and the Beach and Rec employees won't allow out of towners to park illegally, right? So someone please tell us how in the world did this project get approved without ample parking space?
patricia donohue April 10, 2012 at 01:48 PM
About the grassy strip. The people have already spoken. There was much debate,campaigning by the hotel and community discussion, then there was a vote. What I'm hearing...that vote did not matter. I say...end of discussion. The people have already cast their ballots and made their choice. Case closed on the grassy strip. Now, are we going to let the Surf Club parking issue slip by and become a P@R "slam dunk." I was protesting that move months ago. Let's bring that issue to a populace vote. Bet that won't happen!!
Janet April 10, 2012 at 02:28 PM
While the debate seems to revolve around the "grassy strip", isn't the real gem to the hotel the beach in front of it? Although it will still be a "town beach", the hotel patrons will get to use it and very likely make chairs accessible to their guests. The town should make this access possible for the hotel because it IS in our interest that the hotel thrive and succeed, but this access should be reflected in the taxes paid by the hotel... for use of this beautiful stretch of town beach by non-residents of the town.
Cathy Marsh Photography April 10, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I cannot get my small sailboat close to Garvin Point... But a bunch of out of towers can utilize that strip of land. I pay races Scott!! The Garvin Beach is not over utilized! Allow more JY -15s on the grass strip by the shed!!!! Planning and zoning really blew this one! And the locals really were bribed by the Duques family! Wait till they do their exit strategy and SELL the place. Why not purchase the Dolly Madison and do a tear down and then you get too lots? I feel for all the families in close proximity to this place!!! Will the house next door ever sell? Will we locals ever get to park at West Wharf? Stay tuned to what one of the largest taxpayers GETS!!!!
Janet April 10, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Wait, are we truly talking about leasing just the grassy strip, or the beach in front of it as well? This needs to be clarified, as that would preclude town residents from using that beach. We SHOULD provide the access to hotel guests to this beach because it really is in our best interest for the hotel to be successful... however, our beach is valuable and if the hotel is to use it, the access fees should be paid. I'm not saying we need to go as far as the $40 per day non-resident fee per room, but maybe some type of compromise.
Matt April 10, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Oh my god, someone needs to have a vote to remove these people from office. ----------------- First Selectman Fillmore McPherson said it was "not a land lease as such. Beach & Recreation is in discussion with the hotel about a rental, just like they rent out the Surf Club for weddings." ----------------- Is he for real? This deal would "rent" the land to the hotel all year for $11,000 per year. He compares this to renting the dance hall at the surf club for one evening. What a load of garbage. Also, what is this strip of land ACTUALLY worth? Something tells me we're renting/leasing this land to them for one hell of s bargain at only $11,000. If the hotel OWNED the land, what would they be paying in taxes on it? What would it have cost them to purchase it from the town? Those are the figures that should be used in the rent calculation. Didn't the town already vote on this a long time ago. The voters decided they did NOT WANT TO GIVE THIS LAND TO THE HOTEL. So since that was voted down, now they're going under-table it with a pretend rent that is actually a yearly lease?? I can not wait for the next election to get rid of these "leaders."
Doan Steel April 10, 2012 at 10:10 PM
The Madison Beach Hotel is a "World Class" hotel in a world class town. Help them make Madison a better place to live as the are now "World Class" tax payers. Help them help us - don't fight a good thing.
Matt April 10, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Oh my god, someone needs to have a vote to remove these people from office. ----------------- First Selectman Fillmore McPherson said it was "not a land lease as such. Beach & Recreation is in discussion with the hotel about a rental, just like they rent out the Surf Club for weddings." ----------------- Is he for real? This deal would "rent" the land to the hotel all year for $11,000 per year. He compares this to renting the dance hall at the surf club for one evening. What a load of garbage. Also, what is this strip of land ACTUALLY worth? Something tells me we're renting/leasing this land to them for one hell of s bargain at only $11,000. If the hotel OWNED the land, what would they be paying in taxes on it? What would it have cost them to purchase it from the town? Those are the figures that should be used in the rent calculation. Didn't the town already vote on this a long time ago. The voters decided they did NOT WANT TO GIVE THIS LAND TO THE HOTEL. So since that was voted down, now they're going under-table it with a pretend rent that is actually a yearly lease?? I can not wait for the next election to get rid of these "leaders."
Janet April 11, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Matt, let's hope someone runs against him this time!
Cathy Marsh Photography April 11, 2012 at 01:53 AM
You guys are talking about valet parking. Valet parking can cost $10-20 dollars a car. And how many cars attend a wedding function. 100 ?? And how fast do the valet driver drive over the "bumps" of Surf club road when the football, soccer, softball and baseball games and practices are in session. Wedding season will be from April through October. Just when all our kids are down there. No one has discussed SAFETY. and SPEED. And how come that same grassy area cannont be used by the residents who want to put boats down at Garvin Park. I have heard Scott from Beach and Rec suggest that they can't do more spaces because all those boats cannot fit on the beach at the same time. But they are not ever always there. Count the boats that participated in the WEd and Friday night regattas. Let us taxpaying sailors use more of that green grass strip before it goes to patrons of the new hotel. Why was this parking matter not negotiated with the almost largest taxpayer before hand. Why didn't the neighbors complain more ? Why not have the owner purchase the "Dolly" and then demolish it and they can have two spaces. Not that the neighbors would like that either. $10 dollars a car x 50 cars for 50 weddings is over $25,000. Let's be more reasonable about the revenue. Oh give him what he wants, he is the big cheese in town..... until his exit strategy goes into place.
C Mills April 11, 2012 at 12:16 PM
First I truly hope MBH is a big success. However, not at the expense to the town or the neighborhood. $11,000 price is absurd. The value of this little piece of grass was set by the owners themselves with their offered land swap. At a minimum, the cost of rental ought to be the equivalent of the capitalized cost of purchasing the property that was offered as a swap plus the $100,000, MBH recently offered. Also, the town should be able to cancel the lease, if/when MBH is in violation of any of the many critical covenants it promised such as valet parking and noise restrictions. Depending on costly courts to assure compliance are not practical. It is not the town's fault that the MB Hotel used grandfathering to ram through a design that is way too big for the site with parking less than half what is needed and no open land for outside events. While the town can perhaps provide some help, it is not taxpayers' responsibility or in the taxpayers' interest to compromise the most important tax generating asset of our town - the highly assessed private homes along the shore for an individual's commercial gain
tom burland April 12, 2012 at 12:14 AM
The people spoke about selling the strip of land and the beach between the wharf and the strip of beach the wharf already owns. This is renting the land that the MBH has used for more than 10 years for free
Graham April 12, 2012 at 01:00 AM
I am in favor of leasing the land to MBH. This will a great amenity for the people of Madison and I see no reason to not do this out of spite. I am personally looking forward to a May 1st openning.
Emile Geisenheimer August 23, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I voted for it too! But now they are violating zoning variance by having rock concerts every Thursday night and outdoor movies on Tuesdays! The deal on the grassy strip should end after this season.

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