Nearly a year after the Lansing Boat Club got an eviction notice from the city of Lansing, the two sides have come to an agreement allowing the club to stay at Grand River Park.
At a press conference at City Hall today, Mayor Virg Bernero and boat club Commodore Jan DeMarco signed a one-year lease agreement — the one-year lease was offered to the club by the city last February to prevent its eviction, but the club rejected the offer, hoping for a five-year lease.
Bernero said that the eviction was never about kicking the boat club out; it was about a fairer return for taxpayers and determining a long-term use for the land. It was also important to sign a lease, he said, to make it clear that the city owns the land.
Boat club members said last year that a one-year lease would be the equivalent of signing one’s own death warrant, because the club would have to worry each year that its lease would not be renewed.
The boat club will rent its space from the city — located along the banks of the Grand River in Grand River Park — at a variable rate, depending on the number of members. The club will also pay the city whatever it gets for its slip rentals, the price of which will increase to $200 for city residents and $400 for non-residents.
The city sent the club an eviction notice in February 2007, giving it about a month to vacate Grand River Park. At the time, city officials claimed they wanted to make way for a new, city-owned marina paid for through the parks millage.
The city had grounds to evict the club, said City Attorney Brig Smith last year, because it had been operating without a lease since 1997.
The club was “offered to stay on a yearly basis, but they wanted a five-year lease,” Smith said last February. “Flexibility for the city, to the mayor, was most beneficial.”
The city eventually had to take the club to court and prevailed in its eviction claim. For some time, boat club members lobbied City Council for help, with some members — at times — reduced to tears over the prospect of losing their club. Council eventually passed a resolution in March asking that the club be offered a “fair and equitable” lease.