Boathouse Evades Eviction
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 03:01
While the eviction of Jack’s Canoes & Kayaks, LLC is temporarily on hold, the fate of the neighborhood institution, popular among Georgetown students, is still up in the air.
The boat rental and storage company, better known as Jack’s Boathouse, will remain in its location on 3500 Water St. NW pending further review, according to a Dec. 24 announcement by National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis.
"We are in the crosshairs because of our success, but we're not going anywhere," Paul Simkin, the current owner of the boathouse, said.
The announcement came less than a week after the company received formal notification that it had until Jan. 31 to leave its storefront.
According to NPS officials, Jack’s Boathouse received the eviction notice because the name of the store’s previous owner and founder, Jack Baxter, was on the lease instead of that of Simkin, who assumed full ownership in 2009.
The stay of eviction announcement came after widespread public backlash. Jesse Rauch, executive director of the D.C. State Board of Education, spearheaded a campaign to save the boathouse from eviction. Rauch has garnered 2,265 signatures thus far in a petition to stop the eviction.
According to the petition, Jack’s Boathouse, despite being promised a three-year lease, was notified of its impending eviction after certain waterfront properties in Georgetown were transferred from the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia to that of NPS.
As first reported in The Washington Post, NPS wants the boathouse to operate on a concession contract, which reserves a portion of the boathouse’s profits for NPS funding. As of press time, spokespeople for NPS were not prepared to provide comment.
Simkin praised the online petition and other community efforts to support the boathouse, which employs about 15 Georgetown students and alumni.
“The grassroots efforts really kicked in and really made a difference and is making the process more transparent,” he said. “The best thing [supporters] can do is [visit] change.org, because I know the right people are reading that.”
The strong showing of local support has boosted Simkin’s confidence in the boathouse’s future.
“The boathouse is more important to folks than I ever thought,” he said.
Simkin added that Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans said he believes the city is behind the boathouse and recommended that Simkin hire an attorney to fight NPS. Evans could not be reached for immediate comment.
“His words were, ‘You are going to open and you are going to stay open. The National Park Service doesn’t have a leg to stand on,’” Simkin said.