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.