What Does the Future of EYC Hold?
A Request for Member Thought…
October 1, 2014: For some time in my communications with the members, I have been alluding to a need to discuss “the future” of EYC. A couple of times, some thoughtful members have taken me up on the challenge and say, “what do you mean by the future of EYC?” Specifically, what do you have in mind?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a specific vision in my mind yet. Rather, I know what we were, what we are, and that we have still yet to develop and evolve more as a club. We cannot go back to that cute little club of 250 or 350 members. Those days are long gone and one cannot stay locked into the past. The Founders were as aware of this as anyone when they took the audacious step and started a yacht club in 1980. Yet, we know that we don’t want to lose the basic essence of Eastport Yacht Club – the relative informality, the involvement of the members, the “can do” spirit, the camaraderie.
Yet we are somewhere between the old ways of the Club and a fully functioning Yacht Club that serves all ages and categories of members. We have a wonderful facility, a nice Yacht Yard and a good marina. We are working toward the point where we may be using all available assets. That is great, but … well, we are not in a position to grow our youth sailing program if we wished to do so. We have limited space for parking and for hosting regattas. We have limited transient dockage space and limited facilities for families.
In the old days, this might not have posed that much of a challenge. We were able to attract enough families with children and we offered an alternative that was more relaxed as well as a sailing program that was geared toward more fun than racing. Now, we find that new members are normally age 55 or older and are often “empty nesters.” These are fine members but it has added to the perception of a “greying” club. Prospective members with children look at the limits of our facilities and look at alternatives. They could go pure single design racing and go to SSA or they could go to AYC where they have a dedicated Junior Facility with the promise of a pool for members.
So what do we do? That is where you come into the picture. I would like to have a discussion about that very subject with members offering their perspectives at our Annual Meeting. We aren’t voting on anything or committing ourselves to anything. This is a discussion of folks who care about the future of EYC and wish to offer their thoughts. I hope to make this the main focus of the meeting, along with the business of electing the new Board and a couple of bylaw cleanup items.
You may ask, what is the Board’s view of a possible future? I think I can say that the Board does not have a unified vision of the future of EYC. We have just begun to speak of it. “OK,” you might say, “what does the Commodore think, since he is bringing it up”?
Personally, I think we need to take steps to be prepared to jump on a waterfront piece of property if the opportunity should arise. I do not have a particular fixation on any particular option nor do I have a fully formed vision of how financially to prepare us for it. I do know that I would like a dedicated Junior Sailing center with some facilities – pool, a beach, etc. for families. Beyond that, I’m not sure.
Some folks have fixated on the Walker property next door as providing many opportunities for Junior Sailing, a possible pool and maybe more parking. Some have looked across the street at Yacht Haven as a possible target that could make money while we build a war chest. Some have suggested that some kind of agreement of “confederation” with SSA – something less than a merger – would be the best outcome. Some have looked at the Annapolis Sailing School property at the mouth of Back Creek as a property with endless possibilities like a beach and the ability to really run big regattas while providing recreation space.
Any of these possibilities has its attractions just as they have drawbacks. However, if one of these opportunities were to present itself to us now, we would not be in a good position to take advantage of them. That is why I think we need to begin a discussion now about our vision and how we might get there.
Please join your fellow members for a discussion on the “future of EYC” at the Annual Meeting that will be held Saturday, November 8, at 1000 hours at the Loews Hotel on West Street. Please come.