Sample Letter - Georgetown University Boathouse Environmental Assessment
Following is a sample letter with comments on the EA for the GU boathouse proposal. The letter includes a
list of "Significant Impacts" and "Alternative Locations, Uses and Sizes" that are specific to the proposal and
relate to the NPS criteria for conducting an Environmental Impact Statement. Personalize the text to explain
“why” you are opposed to the GU boathouse in the C&O Canal NHPark, and remember that the deadline for
submitting comments is June 15. (Note – Send your comments by regular mail, by FAX or online, and
include your name, title, organization and address on the letter or comment form. Link to the EA for the GU
boathouse and comment form from here: www.savethecanal.org )
Mr. Kevin Brandt, Superintendent
C&O Canal National Historical Park
1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740-6620
Email - Link to the EA and website for submitting comments from here: www.savethecanal.org
Dear Mr. Brandt:
Re. Georgetown University Boathouse Environmental Assessment: Opposition to Proposal (“No Build”
I am writing to express my strong opposition to the Georgetown University (GU) boathouse proposed
for the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The boathouse would do harm to the Park while diminishing the
visitor experience to the wild and scenic urban gateway to one of the “crown jewels” of the entire National
The National Park Service should conduct a comprehensive study of all of the recreational needs of
the Georgetown waterfront area and a full Environmental Impact Statement that will seriously consider
alternative locations, sizes and uses outside the Park for all new boathouses planned for the waterfront.
The Environmental Assessment for the GU boathouse failed to adequately discuss many significant
impacts and alternatives, such as:
A. Significant Impacts:
1. Destruction of a section of wooded tidal floodplain from the construction of a building the length of a
football field at the narrow and fragile entrance to the C&O Canal National Historical Park, the Capital
Crescent Trail and the Potomac Gorge, and the setting of a precedent for future development in the Park.
2. Congestion, safety and traffic issues at the busy gateway site and surrounding area related to the
construction, maintenance and servicing of the private boathouse, as well as the delivery of boats on 60-ft.
trailers along a narrow, popular recreational and commuter trail.
3. Potential impacts on nearby historic properties (Washington Canoe Club and Canal embankment).
4. Significant impacts on the scenic area from the Key Bridge, the George Washington Memorial Parkway,
the Towpath, the Potomac Heritage Trail, the American Discovery Trail, the Potomac Gorge.
5. Hydrological impacts to the area during floods (historically significant along the Potomac River
6. Direct and indirect impacts on the natural resources, floodplain and wetlands at the site of the proposed
7. Cumulative impacts on river and land from the construction of three proposed boathouses in the vicinity of
Key Bridge related to current and future rowing program needs.
8. Value of Park gateway site relative to land to be swapped for it.
9. Potential impact on shoreline boaters from a 75-ft. long private dock extending out into the river.
10. Potential impacts on public health during and after construction of the boathouse if the corroding 84-inch
diameter sewer line which runs underground at the site is ruptured.
11. Public controversy generated by the proposal, including 21 member organizations of Defenders of
Potomac River Parkland.
II. Alternative Locations, Uses and Sizes:
1. 34th St. and Water/K Sts. (East Side) - A private Georgetown University boathouse, next to the proposed
George Washington University boathouse, on more accessible, already degraded land in need of
redevelopment. At this location, GU could sponsor boating programs for other groups in the community --
unlike at the "encumbered" C&O site, where zoning restrictions prohibit broader use of the $15-17 million
facility because of the fragile, bottleneck location along Capital Crescent Trail, a busy public recreational and
2. 34th St. and Water/K Sts. - (West Side) - A Georgetown waterfront "universal" boathouse for private and
public use, instead of two separate private university boathouses on the constricted waterfront and a third
(still unfunded) public facility. The boathouse could include a public viewing stand (on the roof!) and other
public amenities. This alternative offers many land use, environmental, practical, financial and community
3. Thompson's Boat Center - Use university funds to upgrade/expand this public boathouse that needs
repairs, where GW and GU are now housed, and increase the storage capacity by building several smaller
boathouses (and launching areas) in the 34th St.-Key Bridge area.
4. Potomac River downstream from Georgetown - Locations at the base of the Kennedy Center, next to
Memorial Bridge (at the steps area), or next to the FDR memorial, for example.
5. Anacostia River - Multiple locations on degraded land in need of redevelopment. American University
rowing teams are based there.
In addition, the GU boathouse in the C&O Park is opposed by the C&O Canal National Advisory
Commission, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 3D, Federation of Citizens Association of DC,
Defenders of Potomac River Parkland, an alliance of 21 conservation, recreation and civic organizations and
thousands of individuals.
A better boathouse plan is possible that will protect the C&O Park from private development, provide
boathouses for university, high school and public groups outside the Park, and ensure a safe and enjoyable
experience for visitors to the Park and the waterfront.
Say “No,” to the GU boathouse in the C&O Canal Park.
(Printed and signed name and address)