An old club gets a new roof

Friends of Connetquot receives NYS grant to repair fish preparation room

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Before applying for a grant with New York State to repair the roof of the fish preparation room in the historic South Side Sportsmen’s Club, Janet Soley had never written a grant application before.   

“My husband said I sat in front of my computer for two weeks straight,” Soley said of the time it took her to parse through all of the questions and paperwork in the grant application.  “It probably took me a solid 50 hours to complete it.”

Soley, recently named president of the Friends of Connetquot River State Park Preserve, has been passionate about fixing up the roof of the preparation room for about five years.

The fish prep room is an original feature of the South Side Sportsmen’s Clubhouse, a luxury outdoors club for the East Coast elite in the late 1800s. The South Side Sportsmen’s Club was formed in 1866 and was the property’s caretaker until 1973 when it became a state park preserve; the first park preserve in New York State.  Presidents Arthur, Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Cleveland and Hoover were just a few of the prestigious sportsmen that visited the club to hunt or fish.  The clubhouse is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and sections of the building date from the 1820s.  The fish prep room is adjacent to the locker room, where club members stored their equipment. At the time of the club, the room sported a half wall that separated the members’ lockers from the other half of the room. This other half is where the game that members caught was prepared and wrapped up for the trip back to the city.

The room is currently used by BOCES students, as well as the Trout Unlimited Art Flick Chapter. The room can also be seen on tours of the South Side Sportsmen’s Club.

Soley said that it was first noticed that the tin roof was leaking and that there was discoloration on the ceiling about 10 years ago. The skylight in the ceiling is also in need of new glass and flashing.

The $46,651 New York State Regional Economic Grant that the Friends of Connetquot received will go towards fixing the ceiling, skylight, adding more period-appropriate lighting fixtures, as well as a fresh coat of paint. Soley said she could envision the room being used to hold small lectures once the work is completed.

The grant is a matching grant, which means that the Friends of Connetquot had to show they had the money in their account to match the money from the state. Of course, the group would love to raise the money instead of dipping into their accounts. Soley said that she has already earmarked about $5,000 that the group has raised to match the grant. In addition, besides the roof and lighting fixtures, Soley believes that she will be able to get groups and individuals to volunteer their time to assist with the work required to fix up the room.

Moving forward, Soley hopes to polish up the grant application for the icehouse on the property, which she also submitted this year but wasn’t chosen.

“Now I know what they [the NYS Regional Economic Grant] are looking for; I just have to build a better argument for the cause,” Soley said of the grant for the icehouse.

The goal for that project is to turn it into an interpretive learning center with an exhibition about the ice industry, climate change and global warming. Soley noted that the group has already begun collecting artifacts and pictures from the industry that has died out since the 1800s.

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