Two of your favorite trails remain threatened 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 Study (EIS
) process, dormant since 2008 in the face of strong public reaction, will likely be resumed in some form.
The boathouse zone feasibility study
that the National Park Service made final in September 2013 may lead to positive plans for boating enhancement that would respect the values of the C&O Canal NHP. However, the study includes development scenarios that may encourage a renewed drive to establish a major facility for a private academic sports program within the canal park's borders. The study's summary notes that "Next steps in planning for the [boathouse zone] would likely include preparation of an EIS that would further analyze the development scenarios, a revision of the Georgetown Waterfront Park Master Plan, and proposals for one or more land exchanges for boathouses." In June 2014, NPS stated that follow-up action involving an Environmental Assessment would begin in the fall: see article
The Defenders of Potomac River Parkland
coalition is determined to prevent an outcome harmful to the C&O Canal NHP. We urge all supporters of the canal park to stay informed on this issue and be prepared to take action
An intrusive Georgetown University 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 huge boathouse facility would downgrade the views of the river shoreline from the C&O Canal Towpath, the Key Bridge, and from Virginia.