The Bayonne City Council has voted to adopt an ordinance authorizing a 10-year lease agreement with the Atlas Yacht Club of Bayonne, Inc. Located off of the East 5th Street access road off of Route 440, the club is a nonprofit corporation which operates a private boating and yacht facility.
The Atlas Yacht Club is also an historic part of the city. According to the ordinance, the club has been operating on the land since May 23, 1942, on the waterway between Bayonne and Staten Island that connect Upper New York Bay to lower Newark Bay and the Arthur Kill.
It was founded in the early 1930s, on part of the former Port Johnson Coal Docks which were built in the 1860s by the Central Railroad of New Jersey to supply coal to Hudson County and the surrounding region. Homes are constructed on the dock, which juts out into the water, with boats docked in front.
The yacht club is unassuming, tucked away in an industrial area on the east side of Bayonne, with the city’s infamous out-of-operation wind turbine looming in the background. While it is private, residents can view the historic area from the 5th Street Walkway and Overlook.
The private club has boasted a number of prominent citizens as residents, including artist John Noble. Noble lived on a houseboat in the club until the early 1980s, and became famous for his work of the various shipwrecked vessels that were rotting in the nearby harbor.
While the club existed on the land since the 1940s, there was never any formal lease between the Atlas Yacht Club and the city. Things were made official in 2011, when the City Council entered into a lease with the yacht club, through which the club paid the city $460,000 over the ten year period.
That lease agreement expired on Dec. 31, 2020. According to the ordinance, “it is in the best interest of the city to terminate said Lease Agreement in favor of a new lease agreement pursuant to terms more beneficial to the city.” As a result, the city council has approved a new agreement with the yacht club.
New terms and lease agreement
The new lease runs retroactive from Jan. 1, 2021, until Dec. 31, 2031. Per the lease agreement, the yacht club will pay a yearly rent of $60,000 for the first five years. That increases to $65,000 for the latter five years. In total, the club will pay the city $625,000 over the course of the next ten years.
According to the ordinance, the Atlas Yacht Club will provide all utilities, such as gas, electric, heat, repairing and alterations, and will be responsible for the repair, maintenance and upkeep of the premises. The club will also responsible for any improvements, fixtures or equipment located on the premises at its sole cost and expenses.
Any structural alterations to the premises will be made at the sole cost and expense of the Atlas Yacht Club, providing the alterations are in compliance with all applicable statutes, ordinances, codes, rules, regulations and laws. The club will not construct any new improvements without the prior, written consent of the city.
The permitted land use of the premises by the Atlas Yacht Club is to operate a boating facility and private yacht club. According to the ordinance, the city may terminate said lease with the issuance of a 90 day notice of termination.
Longer lease necessary?
During the public hearing for the ordinance, resident Mike Morris advocated the council approve a longer lease agreement, pointing to the history of the yacht club in Bayonne.
“What most people in Bayonne don’t seem to realize about the Atlas Yacht Club, is that it was one of the pivotal places where a noted maritime artist by the name of John Noble did some of his greatest art works. It’s an area that is absolutely historical. It is valuable to the city of Bayonne. I believe that a ten-year period is not enough. It probably should be for 100 years. It’s a place where you can actually go down and look at and almost travel back in time. It’s magical. John Noble’s artworks hang in the Library of Congress. Some of the greatest artworks that he commissioned in his lifetime were along First Street.”
Morris said it was part of Bayonne’s history that needed to be commemorated, something that is not common of old sites from that time period.
“Bayonne is very historical,” Morris said. “Unfortunately, there aren’t that many historical sites left to visit in person. This is an absolute beautiful area.”
Morris called the small village of buildings on the docks with accompanying boat slips “colorful and beautiful,” encouraging those in the city to view it from the adjacent walkway. He also noted that a longer lease agreement was needed to prevent a potential future administration that is hostile to the club from opting not to renew it.
“It’s something in Bayonne that really needs to be persevered for everyone to know about and see.” Morris said. “Hopefully you might consider it a longer period of time than ten years… We might have a new administration that may not see fit to keep it there and may want to redevelop that waterfront. We need to save what we have here of historic value.”
The council voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance authorizing the lease agreement at its March meeting.
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