The Georgetown University Boathouse (con't)

-- by Norm Metzger

Sycamore Islander, November 2003


The August issue of The Islander published an article on the proposal by Georgetown University to build a boathouse just north of Key Bridge and adjacent to the Washington Canoe Club. The article quoted from letters and testimony by several members uniformly opposing the University's plans. In response, Ann Satterthwaite, a member and supporter of the proposed boathouse, commented in an e-mail that:

"Although it was made clear that the article did not represent any position of the club, it seemed to me an inappropriate article for Sycamore. The newsletter has not gotten into issues outside the immediate geographic area of Sycamore. Even when the easement issue was alive, there were no long, provocative pieces in the newsletter about it. If the newsletter gets into issues beyond the immediate concern of the club, it seems to me we open up Pandora's box. Where do we draw the line?

In this case, there are club members who support the Georgetown University Boathouse, including myself who has been working for 25 years to transform that missing link in the waterfront park system into a park. If an issue is to be discussed in the newsletter, I think there should be an effort to present both sides."


Ms Satterthwaite raises several important issues vis-à-vis the newsletter, and therefore I'm delighted that she has agreed to come to the December general meeting, to be held on the Island (weather permitting) on Dec. 10th at 8 p.m. In Ms Satterthwaite's testimony on May 19th before the DC. Zoning Commission on behalf of the Georgetown Waterfront Park Commission, she observed that:

"This is a boathouse for collegial crew training. It is not just a place to store boats. Most major universities and colleges today have boathouses equipped with tanks and other facilities needed for crew training. To compete effectively with first class university crews, it is necessary to have a first class training facility and that is what Georgetown University is proposing. [Also] 1) motorized launches for coaches are needed for crew training; 2) Street frontage is not needed in the case of the Georgetown boathouse where it abuts the river and parkland; 3) boathouses limited to use by institutions and public schools for recreational and competitive purposes should be considered a matter of right use; and, 4) parking need not be required as the rowers and staff will reach the site by foot or bicycle…. The planning for this park on the Georgetown waterfront has been a remarkably open, orderly, and public process. ….In view of this long, open, public planning process, it is surprising that last-minute opposition to the plan has arisen. Where were these people all the years when every aspect of this plan was discussed at Commission meeting after Commission meeting?"

All with an interest in this issue and the questions raised should try to attend the December meeting.