Judge rules that Arlington Yacht Club must find new home

The Arlington Yacht Club will have to weigh anchor and sail in search of a new home now that a judge has ruled that it did not renew its lease at Lake Arlington properly.

The yacht club, which began leasing space at Richard Simpson Park on the lake in 1966, must vacate its facilities by March 31.

State District Judge David Evans ruled last week that the club “failed to properly and timely renew the Lease for a renewal term beyond March 31, 2012, in the manner required by the Lease.”

Evans also wrote that the club’s failure to properly renew the lease was not excused by inaction by the city of Arlington.

Scott Stooksberry, an attorney representing the yacht club, said, “We would have liked to have more time, but we went back and forth and negotiated.”

The yacht club will be able to post signs to let people know when it has found a new location, he said.

Assistant City Attorney Robert Fugate said that the agreement waives attorney fees and that both sides agreed not to appeal the ruling.

Pat Hollabaugh, commodore of the yacht club, said that he is exploring several possible locations but that it will be difficult to find another home with all the advantages of Richard Simpson Park.

Hollabaugh saidthat he would rather stay at Lake Arlington but that a few properties are available that would meet the yacht club’s needs.

Finding new property will significantly increase expenses. The club pays Arlington about $4,000 a year to use the property but will likely have to pay about $20,000 annually to lease another site.

His biggest task right now, Hollabaugh said, is to help 70 club members whose sailboats are stored at the lake.

City plan for property

The city has a master plan for the area where the yacht club has its facility, Fugate said. The plan includes a lake activity room, an office, a pavilion and a lake-view lookout that will make the west Arlington park more attractive for event rentals.

Also, Fugate said, the building the club uses is in a “flowage easement” and the city doesn’t want the building in an area where the lake could rise.

District 7 Councilman Jimmy Bennett declined to comment on the settlement but said: “The new facility will give us more options than we have had in the past. It’s something citizens continue to ask for.”

Renewal dispute

When the club’s lease was renewed in 2006, a mistake in the agreement set the renewal date at the end of March 2008 when it should have been March 2009, according to the suit.

The club notified the city of the mistake as well as its intention to renew. Then, the club contended, the city did not respond. The club also submitted a renewal notice in 2012 and didn't get a response, the lawsuit said.

The club sued the city after getting notice that the club had to vacate by March 31, 2014. Club members contended that they gave proper notice to the city to renew the lease.

The yacht club is an inexpensive, family-oriented organization, Hollabaugh said. It runs a sailing camp for children every summer and has taken Irish teenagers from the Ulster Project sailing every year.

The club has also improved the Lake Arlington property by building floating and fixed docks, a two-lane boat ramp, a garage and restrooms in the clubhouse.

“It’s not like we haven’t been good neighbors,” he said.

Staff writer Susan Schrock contributed to this report.

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