The Threat of an Intrusive Boathouse
: Two of your favorite trails remain endangered by private development. Georgetown University has long wished to build a massive boathouse at the gateway to the natural areas of the C&O Canal National Historical Park's towpath and to the Capital Crescent Trail. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS
) process on this plan, dormant since 2008 in the face of strong public reaction, has been superseded. Now, the issue is revived in another form by the preliminary High Density Alternative of the boathouse zone Environmental Assessment (EA).
The current EA process is a follow up to the Georgetown Boathouse Zone Feasibility Study that the National Park Service made final in September 2013 (see overview
for a description of the study and for links to public comments made on it). Like the study, the preliminary EA proposal may lead to positive plans for boating enhancement that would respect the values of the C&O Canal NHP. However, its High Density option may permit construction of a major boathouse within the canal park's borders. A provision for long-term leasing or land exchange suggests that the facility might become an enclave for a private university sports program. Supporters of the park have until March 6 to make their position known.
Continuing Need for Concern
: The Defenders of Potomac River Parkland
coalition is determined to prevent outcomes harmful to the C&O Canal NHP. We urge all supporters of the canal park to stay informed on these issues and be prepared to take action
An intrusive private boathouse at a location inside the C&O Canal National Historical Park is not in the public interest. If approved, such a building could destroy trees, wildlife habitat, wetlands, and natural flood barriers, besides setting a precedent for private development in other areas of the park. A popular entrance to the canal park and the Capital Crescent Trail, within three historic areas, would be impacted by construction and by the need for maintenance access. Along the trail, bikers, hikers, and baby strollers would tangle with increased traffic, including motorized vehicles. A large boathouse would downgrade the views of the river shoreline from the C&O Canal Towpath, the Key Bridge, and from Virginia. Appropriate sites for construction of ample boating facilities exist on degraded land outside of the National Historical Park.