I was tickled to see the decades-old Georgetown University boathouse issue pop back up in the past week or so. I spent quite a bit of time covering the issue as a Georgetown undergrad years ago, writing, among other things, a long feature about the then-boiling controversy.
At the time, a coalition of environmental groups and the Washington Canoe Club were allied against the university’s effort to build a $10 million, 35,000-square-foot boathouse just upriver of the Key Bridge, saying it was too big, environmentally insensitive and included a sweetheart land deal for the university. It passed a key approval by the D.C. Zoning Commission, but then the National Park Service had to move forward with an environment assessment, which has been delayed and is now put on hold entirely.
The idea, back in 2003, was that the boathouse would be built by 2007. At this rate, the university will be lucky if it can cut the ribbon on anything before 2014.
The Park Service’s new consideration of a “non-motorized boathouse zone” represents the first movement in three years, and it follows heavy university lobbying on the issue. Officials held a public meeting on the pending feasibility study this week, covered by DCist and Housing Complex, and, per the Current, the study should be done by next fall.
What remains to be seen is whether the opponents can maintain their focus, whether the university is willing to entertain a smaller design or a downstream site, and just what this new boathouse zone will eventually allow.