Boat Club Disputes Costs in Lease Renewal
CROMWELL - The Cromwell Outboard Association has enlisted an attorney to assist it with the review of its lease for the 2 River Road Property it calls home.

       The lease, which is set to expire in a little less than a month, will be renewed by order of a town-wide referendum that was held on November 1, but Association leadership that includes Commodore and Town Councilor Al Waters has been contesting terms related to the yearly cost-up to $3000.

       The cost derives from the $1500 the Association was charged for a six-month extension that began over the summer. After the referendum’s passage, Waters had disputed the amount, saying that the Association had expected the renewed lease to reflect the previous arrangement.

       But the referendum language submitted for the ballot indicated that the nonprofit wished to renew the extended version, said Mayor Enzo Faienza. Due to the rigidity of a referendum process as it pertains to the specificity of questions, the terms are not subject to negotiation, he and Town Manager Tony Salvatore have said.

       Nevertheless, language was added and removed from the lease renewal agreement after a couple of meetings between Waters and Salvatore, because Waters had objected to wording that he interpreted to eliminate the possibility of a renewal at the lease’s next expiration five years from its onset.

       But the language, which states that “there shall be no further right pursuant to this Amendment or the Lease to extend the lease term beyond the Lease Termination Date”, was meant to spell out the fact that the agreement would be subject to renegotiation-not that it could not be renewed-Faienza and Salvatore say.

       “It doesn’t close the door in on any new lease with the COA,” Faienza said over the phone last week. “No lease automatically renews.”

       Waters expressed skepticism regarding that interpretation early Monday morning, saying that he would wait for word from the Middletown-based attorney Melissa Harris, who told Waters in an email that the language of the lease agreement should not be altered in this situation. In a phone conversation the previous week, Waters had accused Salvatore of “playing games” with the “wording”.

       But in a letter from Salvatore to Waters dated November 18, the Town Manager expresses that he had decided to remove the new language, which he characterized as standard fare in any renewal process.

       In an email, Town Attorney Kari Olson elaborated, saying that while the town agrees that the language should not be changed, what had initially be added was simply to clarify that there would be no automatic renewal. Seeking to change the $3000 yearly cost, however, would constitute altering the lease question posed at referendum, Olson contended.

       “Rest assured, the Town is standing firm in its conviction that the people have voted on the Club’s petition question and that the rest of the lease terms must remain unchanged during the new five-year term,” Olson wrote.

       Taking the contested language out, Salvatore said, does not change the fact that the agreement does not automatically renew at expiration.

       “It looks a little more enticing, but the dollar amount is still an issue,” Waters said.

       Faienza characterized the yearly $3000 cost as “more than fair for the property”, calling on the COA to let both sides “move on for the good of the town”.

       Shortly after the referendum, Waters said that the new increase may impact the Association’s ability to make its yearly donations to various organizations in town.