Calling it one of the great underutilized places in the Village of Saugerties, Tom Struzzieri said he’s looking forward to developing Lynch’s Marina into a commercial center that will give residents and visitors a chance to experience the Esopus Creek and Hudson River in a new way. Struzzieri, who owns the nationally famous Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS), which brings thousands of competitors and tourists to Saugerties each summer, purchased the marina just before Christmas.
“We’re only at the preliminary stages,” Struzzieri said in a phone conversation Tuesday morning. His plans include improving and expanding the marina, converting the two large buildings into an events center for weddings and improving the bulkhead that protects the marina from the Esopus Creek. Additional plans somewhere down the road include an antique-looking trolley to bring boaters up into the village to eat and shop, and maybe a creekside restaurant.
Struzzieri said his engineer is currently working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation for approvals to work on the bulkhead. One of the major problems is how to either keep the Esopus Creek from flooding the marina or to engineer the buildings and docks so they are not damaged by flooding. When hurricanes Sandy and Irene and Tropical Storm Lee hit Saugerties, the village suffered some of the worst flooding in its history, and Lynch’s Marina was about four feet underwater.
Struzzieri said the bulkhead should help. Measures that will be taken inside the buildings to keep water out. These steps should limit the damage storms might cause. “We want to mitigate the risk from water as much as possible,” he said.
He envisions the event hall in the old buildings looking like a barn, something he said, that more and more people are looking for to hold their weddings and receptions. “We want a commercial center there that lends itself to bringing people down to the waterfront and enjoy the views of the lighthouse and Hudson River,” Struzzieri added.
Struzzieri, part-owner of the Diamond Mills boutique hotel, events and convention center on lower Partition Street, doesn’t believe the proposed events center will take business away from Diamond Mills. Diamond Mills will be the caterer for the center at Lynch’s Marina.
Work has already started at Lynch’s. Workers are removing the floor of one of the buildings, which was destroyed by the hurricanes and tropical storm. While Struzzieri doesn’t have to go before any of the village boards for approval for interior work, he will have to appear before the Saugerties Historic Review Board, because the marina is in the village’s historic zone, according to Eyal Saad, the village’s code enforcement officer. Struzzieri will also have to seek approvals from the village planning board for work on the outside of the buildings or on the docks.
Lynch’s Marina was built in the 1800s to serve the steamboat that worked the Hudson River between New York City and Albany, according to Marilyn VanDerbeck Richardson, the great-niece of Cornelius A. Lynch. Richardson said the C. Vanderbilt was the first steamboat to “ply the waters between Saugerties and New York City.”
In 1830, Saugerties got its own steamboat line, “a night boat for freight and one for passengers to New York City,” Richardson said. “The steamboat Ansonia (later called the Robert A. Snyder) began its service in 1865 and remained on the Hudson for 65 years,” Richardson added.
The Saugerties and New York Steamboat Company was incorporated on January 29, 1889 by Henry L. Finger, Snyder, James and William Maxwell, and John and George Seamon.
Two other steamboats the worked the Hudson were the Shenandoah, which was renamed the Saugerties in 1889, and the Ida. The Saugerties caught fire a short time later and was towed to the lighthouse cove, where portions of it can still be seen at low tide.
With the advent of trains and truck service, river traffic declined, Richardson explained, and in the 1930s the steamboat dock and its facilities were taken over by Lynch.
Struzzieri hopes to restore the marina to some of its former glory.