New EYC clubhouse to soon rise from bay & ashes

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By five years ago, Jan. 12, a freak electrical and snowstorm hit the state, and in the early morning hours the Victorian-era Edgewood Yacht Club was reduced to charred timbers and ashes in a spectacular fire that glowed in the dark, low-hanging clouds.

It was not a night to be on the water. But that very weekend, “intrepid Edgewood sailors,” as club commodore Wayne Kezirian calls them, were back on the water frostbiting. And in the spring of 2011, the summer sailors were back, too. The sailing and the boating hasn’t stopped. In fact, it’s picked up.

The frostbiting sailors sailing Sunfish keep up the tradition of winter sailing on Sundays, although they have been known to exercise discretion when the winds top 20 knots and the temperatures dip below 20. They were out there for the recent “Up from the Ashes” Regatta, and again like clockwork this past Sunday for an 11 a.m. whistle from Stuart Malone, who mans the committee boat – Gee Flat, a pontoon boat. He runs about six races for the day.

By this time next year, the bone-chilled sailors should have something better than heated cars or the cottage that was spared from the fire in which to warm themselves and brag of their race course accomplishments.

Beginning as soon as next month, a crew will start driving the first of 48 steel piles with a 14-inch diameter and measuring 80 feet long. As the piles are being driven into a soft and silt bottom, Kezirian doesn’t expect the neighbors to feel the vibrations from the work. On the other hand, because of the soft bottom, the piles need to be long, and with all that steel they promise to be the most expensive element to the $4 million project. Kezirian said the club “just received” Army Corps of Engineering approval and Coastal Resources Management Council assent for the project.

That’s the plan, even though Kezirian is quick to add the caveat, “nothing in this project has gone quite to schedule.”

With a change in luck, construction of a three-story building – retaining the historical character of the original clubhouse, with a wraparound porch – will run throughout the summer. Because of floodwater requirements, the first floor will be open, with the second floor occupied by the club and the third by the Brown Yacht Club and sailing team.

Overall, the building will be 5,000 square feet, or about half the original clubhouse. Kezirian lauded the Brown University partnership and what it has meant to financing the project.

Kezirian said the club aims to remain true to its mission to provide access to the bay and boating to its members at affordable rates. The club has a membership of 230. Dues for non-voting members are $250. In recent years, the club has focused on growing its fleet of small sailing boats and youth sailing programs.

As for having the new clubhouse rise from the ashes, Kezirian said insurance and the Brown connection have enabled the club to rebuild without a membership assessment. He doesn’t rule out some borrowing, although that isn’t planned now.

And while the new clubhouse will surely become an attractive venue for events such as weddings, Kezirian said that’s not its intended purpose. First and foremost, it’s a yacht club, which is sure to mean those who love the water are going to be there – even when the temperature dips below freezing, and those in their right mind aren’t taking the risk of being tossed into the bay.

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