February 14, 1996
On February 14, 1996, at eight o'clock in the evening, vice-president Warren Brown opened the Sycamore Island meeting which was held at the home of Les and Laureen Nicholson.
Members present were: Peter and Jinny Jones, Holly Syrrakos, Iris Miller, Brad Coolidge, Nancy Bower, Dick and Penny Doolittle, Carol and Dick Schleicher, Mary and Joe Vogel, John Matthews, Amy Salzman, Johnna Robinson, Phil Jones, David Winer, Bill and Joan Kugler, Blair Bower, Peter Winkler, John Seabury Thomson, John Stapko, Jessie Bakeman, Randy Miles and the Nicholsons.
The main topic of discussion was the extensive damage to Sycamore Island and the C & O canal towpath caused by the flooding after the Great Blizzard of 1996.
The club is officially closed to recreational and/or social visits for at least the next month.
John Thomson reported that Tom Nash, District Ranger has given Sycamore Island members permission to access the Island without "written permission." However, John Matthews reported that the Park Service does not want people on the tow path because of the extensive damage, especially at locks 6 and 7 and the Park Police may not immediately recognize the permission given by the Park Service for Club members to go to the Island.
The ferry is open (thanks to a newly strung and higher cable); the power, lights and water are functioning; the men's locker room and bathroom are full of mud, and the canoe shed, what's left of it, is not safe. A task force, made up of John Matthews, John Thomson, John Stapko, Bill Eichbaum and David Winer, was appointed to evaluate possible repairs of the canoe shed.
It was decided that the Club should contribute to the restoration of the canal and towpath. The Club will donate $500, and individual members will be encouraged to send tax deductible contributions made out to the non-profit National Park Foundation, C & O Canal Restoration, to Johnna Robinson, (Sycamore Island Treasurer). She will then write a letter and send all the contributions together. Call Johnna at (301) 229-5421. So mail your checks by March 31. Do it now.
The insurance only covered the clubhouse, not the outbuildings or auxilliary "things." The insurance adjuster will evaluate the electrical damage to the clubhouse. Please note, photographs of the flood and damage are needed to validate insurance damage.
Peter reported that there is much work to be done on the Island, and work parties are needed. Picnic tables floated to the end of the Island. Trees are down. Chain saws are needed. He planned to guide a work party on Sunday, February 18 and will continue March 17, when he and Holly return, and each Sunday thereafter between 12:00 to 5:00 until repairs are finished. HELP WELCOME!!! AND NEEDED!!!
Warren thanked Peter and Holly for all their travails during and since the flood, and Holly offered "a big thank you to all who offered help." She and Peter appreciated all the offers of help and the meals and phone calls. They were touched that so many cared about them personally.
Blair commented: "This will happen again. Let's not relive history. Let's learn from this and do things differently." Therefore, Peter and Holly will draft an Emergency Procedure Manual to be submitted at the next meeting.
John Thomson reported he had many requests for The Centennial Edition of The Islander, which was made up of the April, November and December 1985 newsletters, which included special articles on the life and times of Sycamore Island. Costs for copying will be explored.
The Treasurer's Report was submitted. It was noted that last year's estimate of expenditures was within $900 of the actual expenses. It was indicated that there was approximately $9000 for repairs, but the Club should be cautious.
The Membership Report was submitted. There are 152 active members and three new members: the Foleys, the Framptons and Solomon/Crockett. Honorary status for Josephine Knapp was approved. There are six new applicants, and eleven more applications were sent out.
Appreciation was expressed to David Winer for keeping track of the canoes. Two private canoes and two or three club canoes were lost. He noted that canoes are poorly marked; this needs to be improved.
How would the prepared easement affect the right to rebuild and repair or improve the protection of the facilities?
The meeting was adjourned to view slides of the Grand Canyon and to hear the story of its geology from expert Blair Bower.
-- Les and Laureen Nicholson, Recording Secretary