A friend told me he’s signed a contract to buy the sliver of waterfront (creek front) property known as “Ole’s Boat Yard” at 350 Riverside Avenue. The good news is the buyer is known for skillful renovations, so it could have been worse, but what really irks me is the sale represents another addition to the long list of screw-ups and missed opportunities by the Town of Greenwich.
Remember the infamous tearing down of New York City’s Penn Station? Greenwich had its own version of that when Town government aided and abetted the destruction of the beautiful Pickwick Arms Hotel majestically sited at the top of Greenwich Avenue where the (completely boring and unremarkable) Pickwick Plaza office complex presently sits.
It was the 1970’s, the economy was rotten, and the Pickwick Arms owners, in an attempt to survive, proposed to transform some of their larger suites into luxury condominiums, an idea considerably ahead of its time (the famous Plaza Hotel ended up doing the same thing 30 years later). The geniuses who then sat on the Town Planning & Zoning Committee turned down the idea. Having no other recourse, the owners sold the place to developers and we lost a great landmark. Nice job, P&Z!
“Ole’s Boat Yard” is no Pickwick Arms, but it represents, in a small way, a piece of Greenwich’s past. Guess who stood in the way of anyone trying to maintain it as a boat yard? The Town of Greenwich and (of course) Connecticut’s reckless Department of Environmental Protection, who, among other things, prohibited floating docks on the site lest they impact the precious mud. As a Town, as a State, we have truly lost our minds.
PS. Speaking of lost opportunities, the lot next door to this place used to belong to the Town. Boatyard owner Eric Amundsen, son of Ole, started parking boats there and after around 20 years claimed adverse possession and sold the land! Now, instead of a small waterfront park, residents are treated to the sight of a six foot-high stone wall and a builder colonial. Thanks, Town of Greenwich! Another job well done!