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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Tokeneke Club project altered

Published 10:33 am, Thursday, August 7, 2014
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The renovation plans for the Tokeneke Club were altered slightly at the Planning and Zoning Commission's meeting July 31.

The bathhouse, which was proposed to be razed and lifted, now will be two separate buildings, with the pool in one and the lockers and changing rooms in another, according to Wilder Gleason, an attorney representing the Tokeneke Club.

The commission unanimously approved the change.

According to the Darien planning and zoning regulations, if a structure is within a high-hazard zone -- an area prone to damage during major storms -- and more than 50 percent of the value of the structure is being spent on improvements, the construction must comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations. The improvements to the bathhouse would have exceeded 50 percent of the value of the building, according to Gleason.

As a result, the pool pumps and heaters would need to be placed on the roof of the bath house, as per FEMA standards, to keep it out of the flood zone.

The Tokeneke Club already received a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals to keep the pool equipment below flood heights, Gleason said.

"The problem with putting that equipment on the roof is that there's a view of Long Island Sound that immediate neighbors and neighbors across Butler's Creek would lose," Gleason said after the Planning and Zoning meeting. In an effort to work with the neighbors, the club took a "creative" approach to the project, Gleason said.

By placing the changing rooms in the new separate building, the renovation costs of the bath house go below 50 percent of its value.

Additionally, the pool equipment can be kept below the flood level, but Gleason said if the club has notice that a massive storm, such as Superstorm Sandy, is forecast, the equipment can be transported up to a higher level and out of the way of potential flooding.

The projects, which will cost $5 million, will start in September, first with the lifting of the bath house. The project is anticipated to be completed in May 2015. Construction is set to begin in October.

The second project includes lifting and renovating the clubhouse, which will start in September 2015 and is expected to be completed in May 2016.

The Tokeneke Club, which was built in 1927, was intended to house a swimming pool, but the pool never came to fruition due to a lack of funds. Where the pool would have been was converted into a dance floor, according to the application filed with the Planning and Zoning Department.

The large family lockers will be removed and in their place changing rooms and smaller portable lockers will be installed. In the event of a major storm, the lockers can be transported to be kept out of the way of potential flooding.

Additionally, the tennis house, which was constructed in the 1950s, will be renovated.

According to the application, the plan is to raze the tennis house, the administrative offices and a portion of the clubhouse. The resident will get a new addition to house the facilities that are being razed and will provide for amenities.

The administrative offices will be moved to the second floor, as per FEMA standards, since they nearly flooded during Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene, according to the application.

The Tokeneke Club is in a velocity flood zone and is susceptible to major waves crashing onto the property during 100-year storms.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583;@Meg_DarienNews