DCR not talking
Over the past couple months, Ed Lambert has been talking tough about the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s deadbeat renters, but now he’s not talking at all.
The DCR commissioner told the Wollaston Yacht Club as recently as Jan. 20 that the club would be evicted from its waterfront perch in Quincy unless it remits six years of unpaid rent, a total of $32,000.
But the Feb. 10 deadline for payment has passed and Lambert has gone silent. Initially, his spokeswoman, S.J. Port, said the agency needed some time to review the club’s response to Lambert’s demand letter. Now she isn’t even responding to inquiries.
Club officials are hopeful the delay means Lambert is having second thoughts about evicting them. “We’ve asked DCR to budge and hopefully they will,” said Mark Butkevich, the club’s commodore.
Butkevich says the club, which is located on Wollaston Beach, consists of blue collar people who own smaller boats. “We don’t have big yachts here,” he said. He added that the club has no land, no parking, no storage, no slips, and no gasoline tanks, amenities that other clubs use to raise revenue.
The club has proposed paying only $3,300 of the $32,000 it owes, plus $660 in rent for this year, $825 for 2013, and $1,000 for 2014. The current rent is $5,000 a year.
“We can’t afford $5,000,” Butkevich said. “It would bankrupt us.”
In a Jan. 30 letter to Lambert, Butkevich indicated he and his members wouldn’t go down without a fight. “I hope we can save the taxpayers the expense of litigation when we are so willing and open to finding common ground,” he wrote.
The Wollaston Yacht Club lease is one of several highlighted in a January report by CommonWealth on lax supervision of leases and licenses by DCR. The report prompted Lambert to call in state Auditor Suzanne Bump to conduct a review of the DCR leasing system.Lambert has always acknowledged it wouldn’t be easy evicting the Wollaston Yacht Club. The club owns its clubhouse but DCR owns the land underneath and the beach on which the club’s entrance is located. Lambert has said revoking the yacht club’s license and tearing down the club could end up costing more than the $32,000 the club owes.
“But if we’re going to put a new focus or different focus on how we deal with leases and permits, we can’t look at this in a way that exempts anybody from a set of rules that says you have to pay,” Lambert told CommonWealth for its January report. “If you have to pay, you have to pay. The rules are the rules.”