GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS BoatU.S. SPECIAL REPORT BY RYCK LYDECKER
CAN A GRASSROOTS ORGANIZATION SAVE
A BOATYARD FROM CONDO CREEP?
A few passionate boaters strive to save a working waterfront on Long Island Sound
A familiar sight to many, the fuel dock at Brewer’s Yacht Haven West
closed when the company lost its lease on the boatyard site last fall.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT the real-estate market downturn had slowed the forces that a few years ago swallowed up marinas and other working waterfronts nationwide, one of the largest full-service boatyards in the Northeast is now closed. It appeared to be a casualty in the “gentrification” of the harbor in Stamford,
Connecticut. Brewer’s Yacht Haven West, tenant on the site for 15 years, officially ceased operations last October 31 when the land’s owner, one of the biggest developers in the region, wouldn’t renew the boatyard lease.
Workers razed the 10 shop buildings left there in December. Thus, with
the cold decisiveness of demolition, boaters lost water access, 260 slips, and
essential haul-out, repair, and winter storage on a finger of land that had been
the centerpiece of Stamford’s maritime heritage for nearly a century. Some 60
skilled jobs in the marine trades went by the wayside as well.
“Right now, if I need my boat hauled, I have to run 10 miles east to Norwalk or 15
miles west to Mamaroneck, New York,” says Henry Marx, owner of Landfall Navigation, a
boating supply, marine safety, and nautical chart retailer headquartered a few miles from the
boatyard site. “And if she’s leaking, I’ll never
make it. This is a safety issue as well.” It’s a
business issue for the local economy, too,
he notes. “We had a billboard at one of the
I- 95 exits to Stamford but when they pulled
the boatyard out, I decided it wasn’t worth
the expense because there’s nobody going
to the boatyard anymore,” Marx explained.
“I think in five years, there will be no marine
businesses left in Stamford if they don’t get
that boatyard back.”
Is there any chance of getting it back?
Well, if three determined Stamford boaters
have anything to say about it, yes, a full-ser-
vice boatyard will reopen, and with the same
level of service as before. In fact, they’ve
been saying a lot about it, and with an ever
louder voice, as more boaters and Stamford
residents get behind the grassroots organiza-
tion they formed even before Brewer Yacht
Haven West closed: Save Our Boatyard.
THREE LADIES IN BOAT SHOES
“I’m a boater and a taxpayer, so this whole
situation angered me and a lot of others,”
says Stamford resident Maureen Boylan, a
founder and leader of Save Our Boatyard.
“This was one of the largest working boat-
yards in the Northeast, and for a developer
to come in and give Brewer three months to
get out, as they did last year, then decimate
the place is wrong. Hence, a whole bunch
of us who shared my feelings got together,
started petition drives, then created Save
That “bunch” started small, with
two other like-minded boaters, Carolyn
Goldenberg and Dawn Rogers, who had
gotten wind of plans to close the boatyard
in the summer of 2009, just as Boylan
PHOTO: ANGLEA CARELLA, STAMFORD ADVOCATE
JUNE | JULY 2012