National Park Service announces new feasibility study for Potomac boathouse

After years of incredibly expensive lobbying, and 18 months after the National Park Service seemed to postpone the project ad infinitum, it appears that the University’s efforts to build a boathouse on the Potomac waterfront are ever so slightly moving forward again.

Although the NPS started the process of creating an Environmental Impact Statement in 2007, it has never been completed. In early 2009, a NPS spokesperson said the statement would be released within approximately five months. In June 2010, the same spokesperson said that “new information” required expanding the EIS study. He said, “I cannot say when the entire process is going to be completed.”

The NPS has now unveiled its plans for a new feasibility study, which will be assembled during next spring and summer following discussions with key stakeholders in the process, including Georgetown. The results of the study will be shared with the public during additional meetings in late summer and early autumn of next year.

In an e-mail to Patch, University spokesperson Stacy Kerr wrote, “We remain committed to constructing a boathouse along the Potomac that will meet the needs of our men’s and women’s crew programs and that is a positive addition to the waterfront.”

Tomorrow night at the Washington Harbour, at 3050 K Street NW Suite 200, from 6-8 p.m. the NPS will be holding an informational meeting and open house to talk about the study and answer questions. There will not be opportunity for public comment, though that is unlikely to stop members of the coalition of the Defenders of Potomac River Parkland from voicing their opinions about the proposed boathouse.

To date, Georgetown has spent over $1 million on lobbying for the boathouse, but it is unclear whether that grand expense actually had any effect. The University’s main lobbyist for the project, the Carmen Group, was only nominally employed by the University for much of 2009 and all of 2010. The group has not filed any disclosure reports for 2011 that indicate it still represents the University’s interests. In 2009, the University’s Office of Federal Relations appeared to be taking over lobbying for the project, but its disclosure reports for 2010 and 2011 do not indicate any substantial lobbying for the boathouse.

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