On Jan. 20, the board of the Knickerbocker Yacht Club voted to close the club and sell the property located at 433 Main Street. The club was founded in 1874.
Citing declining membership, overhead costs and debt, Commodore Dr. Brian Raskin wrote in a letter to the members that there was "no other option." He explained that the biggest problem the club had was the reduction in membership. "Four yacht clubs on the bay is just too many," and he noted that there is half the number of boats in the harbor as in the '80s, and that there are more options for local residents than ever."
Dr. Raskin advised that a number of members were ready to put money up as a second mortgage to help carry the debt, but Dr. Raskin wrote that too many members have left the club and not enough people came to replace them.
The commodore informed the membership that the property will be put up for sale as soon as the club selects a qualified broker. "Carrying costs will continue, he said. "Real estate market conditions and the time required to sell the property will determine how much profit, if any, we will receive," he noted.
The closing and sale of the club is, however, subject to approval by 66 percent of the membership.
Furthermore, at press time we learned that some members met over the weekend and have a plan to keep the club viable. They are, however, concerned that based on the board's vote, some members may leave the club before the vote is taken. "We want people to know that we're business as usual," advised Norm Schefer.
Longtime member Manny Greene told us that when he joined the club in 1962 'it was a shambles, but we rebuilt the club and at one time had to close the membership down because it had 100 boats in the fleet." He does not want to see the club permanently closed; "We could sell off the tennis courts and just go back to being a barebones yacht club."
Rumors had been circulating that a merger might be made between Knickerbocker and its neighbor on the bay, the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, Dr. Raskin reported, however, that talks fell through because of the present economy. He wrote, "...so many members at both clubs have resigned that MBYC's leadership determined it would not be prudent for them to assume the financial risks associated with our property and debt."
Manhasset Bay Yacht Club has extended special memberships to the Knickerbocker members, however. They're offering a 50 percent discount on the respective initiation fees for the membership class involved and the new members will not be required to any initiation payment in the first year. Commodore Richardson noted in the letter to the KYC membership, "We sincerely hope that this offer will demonstrate that your members are wanted and valued."
MBYC has also offered to become the host club, with the help of KYC members, for the Knickerbocker Cup, which has become a classic regatta on Manhasset Bay.