Seven years ago, the New Rochelle Rowing Club's building was recognized by the City Council as historic.
Tuesday night, the council is expected to vote on awarding a contract for its demolition.
The building, constructed in 1900 after a fire destroyed the club's previous headquarters on the site, overlooks Long Island Sound on about a quarter-acre of city-owned Hudson Park.
The structure was damaged nearly two-and-a-half years ago when Hurricane Sandy hammered the East Coast.
Since then, the building has been a point of contention.
With club members contending it can be repaired, the city's Bureau of Buildings has recommended the City Council vote Tuesday to award a $120,360 contract to Yonkers-based Capital Industries Corporation to level the structure.
To speed the process, the city accepted three "informal" bids and did not formally put the project out to bid, as is normally required for projects exceeding $35,000, City Manager Chuck Strome said.
Strome, who backs this plan, terming the building a "hazard," acknowledged Monday that developers have expressed interest in the site over the years. But he stressed there has been no discussion about developing the property.
Members of the private club, which was founded in 1880 and produced multiple national rowing champions and 1964 silver medal-winning Olympians Cy Cromwell and Jim Storm, contend the city has long eyed the site for redevelopment and is using storm damage as an excuse to claim the property.
"They had it in mind they were going to rip the place down a couple of years ago (before the storm)," former club president Rick Bauer said. "This is a big charade."
The 71-year-old, who has belonged to the club since childhood, said a private engineer hired by the club immediately after the storm determined the building to be structurally sound.
"It's not about to fall down. It went through a 100-mile-per-hour hurricane," he said.
Bauer said the club initially paid the city a yearly fee of about $100 but changed that to a tax assessment in the 1970s. The city said the yearly bill is about $10,000 and the club hasn't paid it since 2011 and is on a foreclosure list.
Strome acknowledged the city issued a stop-work order to the club after members began repairs following the hurricane but said it did so because the club had not applied for a required building permit.
He maintained the building was in disrepair long before Sandy and the club had received but ignored multiple violation notices. He said independent engineers hired by the city declared the building "beyond repair." He said the city never received a copy of the report from the club's engineer.
"From my perspective, they had since prior to Sandy to remedy the condition and essentially ignored most of the stuff," Strome said. "I don't know what other action we could take."
But both Bauer and club member David Hellerstein said the city made it clear they would never issue a building permit.
The city recognized the building with a Heritage Award a year after Mayor Noam Bramson formed the Heritage Task Force to raise awareness of the city's historic sites.
City historian Barbara Davis said the Heritage Award provides not protection but, in 2012, the building was declared eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, which gives it the same status as being listed and provides some possible protection.
Hellerstein described club members clearing debris from the building following the storm.
"It was like a big washing machine came in and shook everything up," he said.
He said the club had estimated it would cost $50,000-70,000 for repairs and said the plan was to get repairs going while building membership to help with costs.
Bauer said the club had about 40 active members.
Hellerstein, who said the area has a shortage of boat storage areas and worries the city may decide to prohibit boat launching from the site, said ,"The building is a shell of itself but it can be rebuilt."
"To me, it's really a shame. It's a sad thing," Hellerstein said.
But Strome doesn't seem to share that sentiment.
"I don't know the highest, best use of the site, "he said. "But I think there's probably better use than just for a rowing club."