Washington Irving Boat Club Drops Anchor as Waterfront Plans Stall

The Washington Irving Boat Club restaurant, photographed Aug. 19, 2021. (Photo by Robert Brum)

The Washington Irving Boat Club has dropped anchor for the time being, receiving a one-year extension as Tarrytown rethinks its plan to redevelop the waterfront property. 

With little fanfare, the Tarrytown village board decided not to accept any of the five responses it got last fall to its call for requests for qualifications and interest to reimagine the village-owned Green Street parcel. 

At the Board of Trustees’ Dec. 1 workshop, Village Administrator Richard Slingerland said the village “was looking for more of a visionary approach to this that we really didn’t see in the responses,” and recommended hiring a planning consultant “to take a better look at what would work for the site, what would accommodate things like global warming and sea level rise …” 

Then-Trustee Karen Brown, who became mayor Jan. 1, questioned whether the village could workshop some of the proposals they’d already received before bringing in a consultant. But Slingerland said the process “becomes a lot more focused if you have the planners do it.” 

Tarrytown was working on a request for proposals “to engage a consultant to assist with crafting a vision for the 238 Green Street property,” Deputy Clerk Alissa Fasman wrote in a Jan. 19 email to River Journal. “The Board felt that engaging a planning consultant will help better define the potential for park improvements and enhancements to recreational activities, which should help focus future proposals for this dedicated park land.”  

Nothing had been submitted to the Board of Trustees for review, she stated. 

License to Chill 

The outdoor patio at the Washington Irving Boat Club, photographed Aug. 19, 2021. (Photo by Robert Brum)

In November, the boat club was given a license extension, at $2,500 a month, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022, or $30,000 — double what the WIBC paid in 2021, WIBC board member Lowell Kachalsky said. 

WIBC’s 2020 license fee from June 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, was $4,814, according to the village. In 2021 the license was extended from Jan. 1 through June 30 for $4,814, and extended through Dec. 31 for $10,000. 

WIBC, which is a non-profit, has been paying municipal taxes on the property for 65 years, and in 2021 paid $75,051 in taxes, Kachalsky said. No taxpayer funds have been used on the property. 

The boat club, he said, lets the Tarrytown Fire Department, county police, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and other first responders use its boat ramp without charge. 

“We are happy to report that our license to operate has been extended through 2022 and we are fully operational,” Kachalsky said, with the popular waterfront restaurant remaining open all winter.  

“We look forward to working with the Village and participating in any workshops so that there is a unified vision for 238 Green St. that works for all stakeholders,” he stated.  

WIBC, which was among the five entities that submitted a response to the redevelopment query, has “had no direct official communication” from village officials about the status of their search for a new developer, Kachalsky said. 

Petition Drive 

When Tarrytown announced plans last summer to redevelop the 6.1-acre parcel to create more riverfront access and recreation, it was perceived as a shot across the bow by some who feared the WIBC’s days were numbered. 

An online petition drive accusing the village of wanting “to close down the boat club and change it to a tourist attraction” that is linked from the club’s website has garnered more than 1,800 signatures. Another 750 signatures have been obtained in a hard copy of the petition at the club, Kachalsky said. 

Tarrytown’s redevelopment plans listed possible amenities including “restaurants, marina, docks, bike rentals, kayak rentals, etc.” Slingerland said no residential or commercial development was being considered. 

Besides WIBC’s response, the village received proposals from consortiums headed by Barley House, N.K. Bhandari, National Resources, and Pier 15. 

16 Comments

  1. Let’s leave the Washington Irving Boat Club as it is. It has been a wonderful and reasonable “oasis” for so many ordinary folks to enjoy. My Father, in the late 1950’s, became a member of this “working man’s club”.

    The food, staff and all the music provided is so incredible and great for so many people like myself who can’t afford yacht club memberships (and actually not interested)

    This venue is open to the public and all who make that trip down “yonder” to that little Club almost underneath the Tappan Zee Bridge are so happy to be part of that “oasis”!!!! And I feel so fortunate since the 50’s to the present, to still enjoy it and dance to the great music….although will always miss dancing with our Hero, Chick Galella!

  2. Born and raised in North Tarrytown ( Sleepy Hollow)
    Tarrytown ( Washington Irving) boat club was always a place to go. No matter the years that passed you can always find someone there that you know. A very welcoming addition to Tarrytown. This is a spot that no matter your level of life riches you are treated wonderfully.

  3. The Boat Club as it has stood for 50 plus years, is still an affordable place to enjoy the River and its views! All are welcome to come enjoy the riverfront and no one is pressured to purchase anything to sit there and enjoy it. I fear that if it gets taken over by a fancy Restaraunt or development, most who come now will not be able to afford going there!! Please help leave it as is, possibly with some improvements to update it!
    Joe T

  4. It’s a popular landmark and asset to Tarrytown. The boat slips are a wonderful spot to pull in and have some food and drinks. The music brings so much joy. Please don’t change this venue. There’s not many waterfront options left to go to.

  5. All of the proposals that were rejected by the Tarrytown board smacked of dreams of making big bucks for the proposers – except for the WIBC proposal. WIBC’s proposal was the only realistic proposal that would allow all Tarrytown residents to continue to enjoy this wonderful amenity. At the same time the WIBC proposal suggested some realistic answers to some of the ideas the board wanted. The board was wise to reject the proposals and to extend the WIBC lease. Now, they should sit down with WIBC and work out a practical plan with WIBC to allow this amenity that is available to everyone, not just Tarrytown residents, to continue. No expensive consultants needed – just common sense from local leaders working with those impacted.

  6. 2,500.00 a month for a 6 acre parcel property on the riverfront, Marina and a restaurant ? Does anyone see a problem with this ?

    1. I understand your question, but you need to understand the WHOLE story, starting with the history of what was a derelict piece of dirt and debris – not 6 acres – left over from construction of the original Tappan Zee Bridge. Do a little research, please, then come back.

    2. No. They provide a great service in which the members install the docks in the spring and remove them in the fall all the while doing the maintenance. We lost the Tarrytown Boat Club due to their lack of maintenance on the pilings where most were rotted though at the water line. There have been many capital improvements and they have accommodated the larger demand created by Tarrytowns growth and development at reasonable price. Great Food, Great Bar, Great Sunsets for all comers.

  7. I have had a boat at the Washington Irving Boat Club as a B Member since the 80’s until past 2010 and watch them devote their labor of love that the Members put into what is now the only boating place in Town. They have maintained the docks and pilings and have provided safe harbor to many including the NYS DEC, Fire Department and Coast Guard. They have grown from the old Quonset Hut left by the Tappan Zee Builders in the 50’s. They have added the Restaurant, the Bar (where anyone can sit a play a tune), the outside Bar, free Music and expanded patio where you don’t have to make a purchase or be a member to enjoy the sunset, the river, the music or camaraderie. The Club has been in the capable hands of its members for close to 70 years and should continue under the current leadership. The risk of political change trying to raise a few dollars in taxes to too great. Thank you Washington Irving Boat Club for decades of service to the community.

  8. The WIBC has been a wonderful little Gem for Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow residents since the 50’s (my dad became a member in 1958, and later became the Commodore). We now live in Florida, but come to Tarrytown at least a few times every year, and although we visit local friends and relatives it just doesn’t feel like we’re home until we stop by the WIBC for a beer and to see what the locals are up to. Please don’t destroy this gem that not only means so much to so many, but is also a great way to introduce newcomers to our beautiful Hudson River and the joys that it brings. What price can you put on that? Like the credit card ads, “Priceless.”

  9. I addition to lease/license fees WIBC pays municipal taxes on the property.
    In 2021 WIBC paid $75,051 in municipal taxes.
    In addition, it should be known that WIBC has also been paying taxes on the Village property for 65 years.
    In the last 11 years alone, WIBC has paid nearly $2.3 million in various taxes; In addition to the Village set lease/license fees, WIBC paid $500,000 County/Town/School/Village in property taxes, and $1.8 Million State/County/Village in sales taxes. At a recent Village meeting, it became known that some Village officials did not even know WIBC was paying the County/Town/School/Village taxes on the Village property. WIBC is a not-for-profit organization and profits go back to the club to support the costs of running the club and facilities, which helps keep the costs of the marina reasonable to our boat owners.

    WIBC also wishes to point out that we provide no-cost boat ramp access to the County Police, the Riverkeeper, Tarrytown Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and other first responders when called upon. Our boat ramp has always been open to the public and our many kayak racks are nearly full. WIBC provided our marina and parking lot, at no cost to the clean-up firm, for staging of the services needed for the environmental clean-up of the river following the March 2016 collision and sinking of the tug Specialist. We also provided, at no-cost, our grounds for the staging of the 8 Bridges swim race in 2019, and several of our boat owners have provided their boats as oasis & rescue craft for the annual Nyack to Tarrytown Swim for Life. Our grounds are regularly used by walkers and joggers, and bicyclists and fisher folk (men, women, and children).

    No Village or taxpayer money has ever been provided by the Village for anything on the property. The Village also does not maintain the sewer or sewage pump station that serves the site, and does not provide snow removal or trash removal; WIBC pays for those services directly. WIBC provided those facilities.

    WIBC developed the marina from a dirt pile in circa 1955. The restaurant was a former local schoolhouse that the club bought from the Village, and that we also paid to have moved to the site in the 1970s. WIBC has been responsible for everything one now sees at WIBC. In 1955 there was nothing but dirt and the top of a Quonset hut, left over by the original TZ Bridge contractors.
    Over the life of the club, WIBC and its members have invested more than several million dollars (money, labor, sweat equity, and materials and equipment) in developing the marina, club facilities, grounds, and restaurant. In the winter and spring of 2021, WBIC invested nearly $300,000 in upgrading the restaurant kitchen.

    We look forward to working with the Village and participating in any workshops so that there is a unified vision for 238 Green St. that works for all stakeholders.

  10. Nearly 3,000 people have signed our hard copy and online petition in support of WIBC.
    The Board of Directors of the Washington Irving Boat Club is pleased to send this note to thank you for supporting us by signing our “Save WIBC” petition this past summer.
    We are happy to inform you that your support succeeded and WIBC will be active in 2022, and hopefully beyond with your continued support.
    Commencing immediately, our restaurant will be under new management with an improved menu.
    In 2022 we will also be reopening our outside grill for your enjoyment and outside entertainment will continue as well.
    This winter we will be providing karaoke nights and trivia nights and our indoor restaurant will be open this winter as well. Please see our website for more details.
    WIBC endeavors to continue to be a reasonably a priced marina for smaller boats, kayaks, and boat launching, as well a reasonably priced food and entertainment venue.
    And as always, the riverfront at WIBC is open to all for those who enjoy walking, fishing, photography, and painting or just want to hang out and chill. Only the marina has restricted access for safety and security reasons.
    We look forward to a fun and successful 2022, and beyond with your continued support.

  11. Excellent explanation of FACTS and history! The best outcome for Tarrytown Residents and Taxpayers would be for Tarrytown Officials to work with WIBC to come up with a REALISTIC plan. No expensive consultants are needed. Common sense and cooperation between Town Officials and WIBC can do the job best! Drooling developers are only interested in profits, not what is best for residents, taxpayers and those who enjoy what WIBC has created and is available to everyone.

  12. I recently moved to Tarrytown and wish to secure docking for my 18 foot Century Bowrider. I’ve had a hard time contacting anyone at the WIBC. Please advise or help me if you can. An article about me and my mystery novel, Death In Westchester (second edition) is in the Feburary issue of the Hudson River Journal. My wife and I love Tarrytown and the WIBC restaurant has become my favorite hangout. What great sunsets,food, and staff at the restaurant!!! So glad the WIBC got a one year extension. Having seen what happened in the gentrification of the waterfront in Yonkers, I urged my fellow tenants to vote for keeping the big money boys at bay in Tarrytown in the last election. This sort of class warfare is going on up and down our great Hudson River.

  13. If there was a real and sincere investment in keeping the Washington Irving Boat Club, there would be a creative sub-committee on the Board to keep this restaurant and boat club to accommodate the residents and boaters who have enjoyed the affordable food, entertainment and view. They can then accommodate the profit motivated people; by building around the WIBC. It takes an appreciation and respect of the local residents who are being priced out of their community by at least allowing this one affordable balance in their lives. The Board can also accommodate the wealthy investors by building around WIBC. The monies brought in by these investors can help keep the rent of The WIBC at a fair rate. Maybe the reputation of the Board can be restored also by doing the right thing for the people who they are responsible for in protecting and creating a cohesive, safe and enhanced environment. These residents should be valued more than $$$$$$$. You can have both with out selling out!!

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About the Author: Robert Brum