SOUTH KINGSTOWN – After barely surviving Hurricane Sandy, the Green Hill Beach Club collapsed Thursday.
The club, originally built in 1961, was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt in the late 1970s. Facilities were continually updated over the past decade until Sandy left the elevated clubhouse standing on two support pilings.
“We were pretty well hammered by Superstorm Sandy,” said Tom Tiernan, president of the beach club’s board of directors. “The club was built 51 years ago and presently services about 200 to 225 families.”
Tiernan said the tides have continued to rise over the years, which has caused significant erosion to the property, as is the case with many neighboring properties.
In October, Hurricane Sandy destroyed a recreational facility in the club’s basement, but the elevated portion of the clubhouse remained.
“It’s been in jeopardy since then,” Tiernan said Monday. “It was stickered by the town of South Kingstown for non-occupancy.”
Club managers then had their insurance company out to assess the damage after Sandy and received a report from the company’s engineers, stating that rebuilding the club would be feasible.
Tiernan said this process took several months.
“Unfortunately, the club had become more compromised due to similar events, wave action, etc.,” he said.
And after a few consecutive days of large surf last week, the ocean took out the last remaining supports and Tiernan said the club collapsed around 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“The last upright or two gave way and the club collapsed,” Dan Morrissey, a lifelong club member said Monday. “It went from up in the air flat on to the ground.”
On Monday, workers had already brought in heavy equipment to begin disassembling the club’s remains.
Tiernan said they plan to rebuild in time for summer 2014.
“We hope to get all these processes that they want us to accomplish,” Tiernan said, citing formalities with the Coastal Resources Management Council and the state Department of Environmental Management as contingencies to their reconstruction process.
Tiernan said the club would have some facilities open this summer, including a bathhouse and a tent.
Tiernan said they plan to use money from the insurance claim to rebuild for 2014. This year, the club is offering members a 20 percent discounted summer rate, in light of the situation.
In the future, Tiernan said he hopes the club and its members will continue as a “community spirited” organization, holding fundraisers and donating to local charities.
“We hope to continue this summer with our traditions with members,” Tiernan said. “We’ve received quite a few positive responses and anticipate most of our clientele will come back. We’re in our 52nd year and generation after generation, it’s the same families that continue to go down and enjoy the beautiful ocean front piece of property that we have down there.”
Green Hill Beach Club is the most recent in a host of casualties resulting from Hurricane Sandy and subsequent storms. Structures damaged or lost include the South Kingstown Town Beach pavilion, two of the historic Browning Cottages and Tara’s Tipperary Tavern. The on-going erosion and storm threat also prompted the South Kingstown Zoning Board to permit the relocation of 28 first and second row cottages at Roy Carpenter’s Beach on Cards Pond Road.