Opinion: Open letter to the Milton Landing Committee concerning the Milton Yacht Club
Submitted By David Gallagher
As a Milton resident, I have observed with growing alarm the discussions about the Milton Landing and the lack of concern with the future of the Milton Yacht Club [MYC]. On occasion, I have had the privilege of embarking from Milton Landing as a guest of a MYC member. Although my primary function was being the captain’s whipping post should events go south, I do have some thoughts I would like to share on this matter. As further background, my daughter formerly rowed for the Neponset Rowing Club and the Milton High School crew that operated out of Milton Landing. I am not a member of the MYC.
From general discussions and published articles, it appears from my viewpoint that the Town of Milton is indifferent to whether the MYC is a future part of Milton Landing. Plans are being floated to remove almost entirely MYC ability to store their boats at Milton Landing. In other words, MYC is in effect being told that they can have the yacht club but without any boats. Hello? The use of the land taken from MYC would be transferred to the Lamborghini drivers of the landing condo association in some sort of land swap we would need to hire counsel to explain. Further, the rent charged to MYC would increase and possibly responsibilities, including financial, such as the expensive upkeep of the building that was formerly the Milton Jail as one example.
I know there are other items being asked of the MYC. Instead of these type of tactics, I think the Town should just operate in a transparent manner as to their intentions. I suggest locking up all MYC members for trespassing, throw all the boats in a dumpster, sweep out the parking lot and move forward with what they really want to happen at Milton Landing but that is their call.
Should the demise of the MYC occur, not due to unforeseen events but the actions of the Town, I find myself unable to eloquently describe this result and can only offer the words that spring to mind “What a waste!” I hope no one is in a hurry as I try and explain.
First, as a practical matter, you know that little area, way down the end of the parking lot near the boat launch littered with discarded needles, condoms and drug paraphernalia? Well, with the MYC out, picture the whole landing like that. The MYC, due to its continuous presence, severely curtailed that activity. I know, the Town has a plan and I’m sure it will be spiffy but I have little faith that a government entity can duplicate the longevity of the MYC. Chances are in 5 years when the interest and funding dries up, the landing will be a no man’s land without MYC around.
There are other important issues surrounding the MYC that need to be considered. Intangibles that relate to quality of life, traditions and I dare say it in today’s climate, the American way. These issues are more important than money. MYC has created a unique community that can only be replicated with great difficulty. And the best part is that anyone can become part of this community. It is an open Club. This means that families can join, fathers and mothers spending time with sons and daughters. Small children growing up with family as part of the MYC, going on to own their own boats, then growing old and passing. All this has actually been happening for over a hundred years right at Milton Landing.
To sum up, MYC is a generational institution devoted to the pursuit of pleasure associated with boating. The experience, the stories, the comradeship and other adventures in their lives were all made possible by the presence of Milton Yacht Club. To some, the area occupied currently by the Milton Yacht Club is a collection of old boats and should soon be dismantled and cleaned up. To me, as a trained engineer the area reeks of boat design, structural mechanics, problem solving and lessons passed down through generations. It is an area that teaches careful planning, common sense and hard work. It is a working Museum in action from spring to fall going about the business of boating. Any casual passerby can observe and enjoy the activities there from launching boats to repairing boats and everything in between. Further, the line of boats moored on the river as dusk approaches is an image worthy to represent the Town of Milton.
What kind of people are the members of the MYC? I wouldn’t be able to accurately describe them with words but I can say this, if you had car trouble at the Milton Landing you would soon have five or six members gathering around to help you get on your way. And if they couldn’t fix the problem they would be calling someone that they think could. That’s just the type of people they are, they help out anyone that needs it and have a couple of laughs doing it. I think by being around boats teaches you that life can be hard and we’re here to help each other.
If you want inspirational stories curtesy of the MYC, go down to Milton Landing and find the boat named Valhalla. You can’t miss it due to having the largest bow spirit I’ve ever seen on a boat. A professionally done video about it was released recently. Built by a Tradesman by lumber scavenged from the building of the Prudential Tower and constructed with no working plans or professional help. Oh, I almost forgot to mention MYC is a working man’s club meaning the members do all the maintenance of their boats and the running of the club. There is no “write the check” types here.
Why am I doing this commercial about lessons learned and life experiences? I mention it because that is exactly the type of result the Town should nurture for a recreational space like the Milton Landing. Instead of pushing the MYC out, they should be actively taking steps to support its continuation. As the old adage goes: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
My recommendations: Give the MYC the old deal back which includes boat storage and stop leaving them as a tenant-at-will indefinitely. They need to know that they will be there for an extended period so they can make plans and will also be more likely to make long term investments in the area.
When i hear that the MYC didn’t make the minimum bid and needs to contribute more, it just makes me angry. Another government agency holding their hand out to benefit from some success, in this case, a hundred year old working man’s yacht club that never had a working budget of more than a few thousand dollars.
I will close my comments with the Serenity Prayer. Although I’m not religious, it has given me guidance while making decisions and I hope the Milton Landing Committee will consider it before deciding on a permanent course of action.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.