BOSTON– The State Legislature recently enacted legislation aimed to curb the rising cost of leases for boating clubs in the Commonwealth. Following years of back and forth between boating-club members and the Department of Conservation about the appropriate price of a lease, the Commonwealth stepped in to cap the rising costs at 3% a year.
Boating clubs across the state began to be issued lease agreements in 2015 with 20% to 30% increases in the price, prompting concerns about long term viability and threatening their mission to enhance access to the Commonwealth’s waterways, provide boating education, and make capital improvements on public land. In a November 2017 meeting organized by then State Rep Collins and his colleagues on Beacon Hill, many members pointed out that their clubs were moved by the state through eminent domain at some point.
While the term “Yacht Club” may conjure images of mega-boats with elite members, the reality of boating clubs in Massachusetts is that most members are retired or on fixed income, and the clubs often provide community benefits that the DCR would otherwise incur, including park cleanup, tree maintenance, and water management. One recent DCR proposal of 5% annual increases, compounding annually, would have limited membership to only the more wealthy, and undercut the clubs ability to perform its programs that benefit the wider community.
“Simply put, this was the right thing to do,” said Senator Nick Collins. “We have many boating clubs in the First Suffolk District, from South Boston, to Savin Hill, to Port Norfolk and beyond, and these clubs provide immense public benefit and are excellent stewards of the public land on which they sit. I was glad to work with my colleagues to find a middle ground that works for everyone involved.”
The Governor signed the bill on January 7th, after Senator Collins and the legislature had pushed for the provision to be included in last year’s budget.