The National Park Service will begin considering the construction of a non-motorized boathouse on the Potomac River to serve the Georgetown and The George Washington University communities, representatives said Tuesday evening.
The boathouse would be located upstream of Georgetown Waterfront Park and be utilized by the crew teams at Georgetown and GWU, in addition to neighborhood rowing organizations.
NPS officials announced at a community meeting that they will begin conducting interviews with key stakeholders such as university officials, neighbors and owners of existing boathouses in January. The following month, the NPS will hold workshops with community members to further gauge how to accommodate different interests.
In addition to community meetings, NPS also will design and conduct an environmental feasibility study from the edge of the Georgetown Waterfront Park at 34th street, to 1,200 feet upstream, to determine effects the boathouse might have on the area. The study will examine structural capacity, zoning and possibilities for architectural design.
The establishment of a boathouse has been a goal of the university for more than two decades. In 1987, the NPS determined that there was indeed a need for a boathouse for nearby universities due to an increased interest in rowing.
However, the plan was been slowed by the number of steps involved in NPS assessments and met heavy resistance from community groups concerned about the potential effects on the neighborhood. In an October 18, 2005 article in The Hoya, The Washington Canoe Club and Ohio Canal Club were cited as the harshest critics of a new boathouse. Spokespersons from the group were concerned about obstructed views. In 2004, the two groups filed a lawsuit to halt construction.
By 2006 the NPS determined that an Environmental Impact Statement would be necessary before construction could begin. Although NPS began the process, they halted two years later due to the construction of the Georgetown Waterfront Park.
Tuesday’s meeting marked the first step in a renewed effort to move forward on the long-delayed boathouse plans.
The results of the interviews, workshops and studies will be presented to the public in late summer or early fall of 2012.