No fall is complete at Georgetown without a vast number of freshmen going out for and then quitting the crew team. But Georgetown crew has an even more time-honored tradition to its name – the lack of its own boathouse.

For 17 years, the university has planned to build its own boathouse closer to campus.

For 17 years, bureaucratic constraints and now, lawsuits, have delayed the beginning of construction.

Once again, community groups are standing in the way of the boathouse. On October 7, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Association and the Washington Canoe Club filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to halt a proposed land swap between the university and the NPS, a land swap which has sat at the heart of proposed boathouse plans since 1987.

The lawsuit centers on issues that have already been argued and resolved. The C&O Canal Association and canoe club should not have brought it forward. The attempt by these organizations to stop the construction of this much-needed boathouse smacks of parochialism and territoriality.

Yes, the WCC will no longer have a wooded area upstream from it to protect its boathouse from flooding. And, yes, users of the canal path will now have to look upon a boathouse instead of the current foliage when running along the trails above the river. And, yes, the plans call for a larger boathouse than initially proposed.

These may be valid concerns, but a smaller boathouse would not resolve the issue. The canal path would remain obstructed by any boathouse. The canoe club cannot expect that the land to their west will always remain untouched. And although the plans for Georgetown’s boathouse exceed the square footage requirements originally set forth, the zoning commission, the only body involved with the objective expertise necessary to evaluate the boathouse’s design, approved the project last December. In addition, if the university is going to build a boathouse, it should build one that meets the needs and resources of our current and future crew teams and not stop short of these by building an inadequate facility.

Whether one agrees with the concerns of the boathouse opposition or not, the fact remains that these concerns have been addressed and readdressed. These groups brought their concerns to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, and the ANC supported the university’s plans. They brought their complaints to the Zoning Commission, and the commission voted to approve the design after conducting several hearings. The WCC and C&O Canal Association should stop litigating issues that the community and city have already decided upon.

These groups’ persistence in fighting the boathouse fails to hide their rather blatant dislike for sharing the river with others. Thompson’s Boathouse serves not only Georgetown and George Washington University but many area high schools too. The lack of space forces teams to store their shells outside. Not only is this less than ideal for the shells, but this outdoor space will soon be lost as construction for the new Swedish Embassy begins.

A boathouse for Georgetown will alleviate many of the space constraints that area crew teams face in cramped Thompson’s. Community organizations must realize that they have to share their precious woodlands and river views with others.

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