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LI Yacht Club, Babylon Village mainstay, reopens after struggles

The pool at the Long Island Yacht Club

The pool at the Long Island Yacht Club in Babylon, seen on July 13, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

The Long Island Yacht Club, a longtime Babylon Village institution forced to close in 2015 because of funding problems, has reopened under new owners.

Business partners Ned Hurley and Rick Stettner in June purchased the 6.5-acre property on Little East Neck Road that looks out on the Great South Bay — rescuing it from insolvency.

“It was a dormant animal floating toward the finish line of bankruptcy,” Hurley said of the club, which includes tennis courts, boat slips and a restaurant in a Georgian mansion dating to 1911.

Hurley, 54, of Manhattan, and Stettner, 58, of Oakdale, paid about $2 million to buy the club and settle its debts, which included hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes, Hurley said. Before purchasing the facility, the pair entered an operating agreement with the club’s Board of Governors in May 2016 and reopened for the 2016 summer season.

“We want it to be a mainstay of the community,” Hurley said.

Established in 1958, the club was once a fixture of the Babylon Village social circuit, with about 160 full members in the 1960s who commandeered an impressive fleet of sailing and power boats, Newsday has previously reported. More recently, declining membership, storm damage and mounting debt forced the club to close in December 2015, at which point fewer than 20 members remained, Hurley said.

He and Stettner were among many who contacted the board to express interest in purchasing the property, they said. But unlike others who had their eyes on subdividing the parcel for residential development, the business partners wanted to reopen it as a club.

Their operating agreement stipulates maintaining the facility as the yacht club for at least four years, although they said they intend to keep it that way.

“I think the club is a fantastic asset for the village,” Babylon Village Mayor Ralph Scordino said. The new owners “really got it together.”

The club now has 128 members, General Manager Eric Stettner said. While there are no restrictions on where they can live, many are young families from Babylon Village, he said.

Key to attracting them — and making the club financially viable — was dropping membership dues to $1,500 annually from $10,000, and paring back from a year-round to a summer-only schedule, Hurley said.

Except for a few events, the club is primarily open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The renovations that the new owners have carried out — repainting, installing new ceilings and lighting, upgrading the heating and plumbing — also enticed newcomers.

Tyrone Clinton, 70, of Wantagh, joined the club with his wife this year.

“They did it all, plus more,” Clinton said while treading water in the club’s pool on a recent afternoon. “I saw the potential.”

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