December 20, 2013

Arlington mayor mum after boat owners hire attorney

The Arlington Yacht Club hires an attorney to protect a 10-year lease with the city after park renovations threaten its existence.

Mayor Robert Cluck won’t partake in any discussions with members of a local boat club anytime soon.

Leaders of the Arlington Yacht Club hired an attorney this month to protect their remaining 10-year lease at Richard Simpson Park along Lake Arlington. City planners are working on a master plan for the park that does not include the clubhouse or boatyard. If the plan is approved, construction on a new lake facility, a trail system and several pavilions could begin in 2015.

Cluck previously told the Star-Telegram that the yacht club would have to substantially clean up the area it leases if it’s allowed to stay. But because the group has hired an attorney, Cluck can’t say much more.

“Even if we were inclined to discuss it, we really couldn’t,” he said. “We cannot discuss it with them, and we will not.”

Club commodore Manuel LeBlanc and two other members hired attorney Frank Hill with Hill Gilstrap in Arlington to consult with the group on the 10 years left on the lease. LeBlanc would not speak more on the issue, saying the club already “got the message out to the public.”

Former commodore Jack Hattendorf II said the club retained a lawyer after the council notified it that the boat storage would be taken away.

The club also created its own Facebook page, Save the Arlington Yacht Club, which has garnered 1,085 likes.

“We want to work with the city of Arlington, so let’s have a dialogue so we can do that,” club secretary Garrett Williams said. “What we retained an attorney for is strictly the lease portion of it.”

Williams addressed the City Council during Tuesday night’s meeting, as did Hattendorf, Bryan Keathley and Bob Johnson — all local businessman and club owners who spoke on behalf of the club, with more than 80 current and former members and supporters in the background.

Cluck said he and other council members received 50 to 60 letters and emails in support of the club.

“We reached no conclusion, and I don’t know how long it’s going to go on,” Cluck said. “I don’t know how we will deliver the message because of the legal part of it. We are discussing the master plan we’ve been discussing, but now we can’t directly discuss it with them.”

The club has rented the building and boatyard since 1970.

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