Jack’s Boathouse, a popular Georgetown canoe and kayak rental establishment that has operated since 1945, is filing a complaint with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia this week to prevent the National Park Service from evicting it on Jan. 31, according to Washington City Paper.
NPS, which has leased the waterfront property to Jack’s Boathouse since October 1973, has not said why it is attempting to evict the business, though it plans to proceed with an open bidding session for the site.
Jack’s owner, Paul Simkin, and his attorney, Charles Camp, claim that the NPS no longer has jurisdiction over the land. The two brought attention to a 1985 D.C. Council resolution, which transferred jurisdiction of the Georgetown waterfront from D.C. to the federal government. They said the resolution specified that the land would return to the city in the case of amendments to a related deed and that two amendments had been made.
A 1987 letter between the NPS and the mayor’s office complicates the situation even further. In the letter, then-mayor Marion Barry and NPS National Capital Regional Director Manus J. Fish. agreed that the land would only revert to D.C. once amendments have been made other than those that are “technical or insubstantial.”
Camp said the letter and the resolution contradict each other and that the wording does not give NPS “blanket authority” over leased properties. However, Peter May, NPS’s associate regional director for the National Capital Region, told City Paper, that he believes the letter makes it clear that the Park Service still retains full authority over the Georgetown waterfront.
Patch reported that Simkin and his attorney brought the issue to the attention of the D.C. Attorney General’s office in the hopes that they would file suit, but the office would not make a public statement or offer an opinion in regards to the issue.
Camp said that they would sue any other business that attempts to operate on the site if NPS awards them the contract.
Voice News will have the full details of the Jack’s Boathouse legal controversy in the print issue Thursday.
Photo: Hilary Nakasone/Georgetown Voice