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Boathouse redesign leaves rowing club in limbo
Thursday, September 17, 2009 by Michael Mmay
The boathouse that sits at the mouth of Waller Creek on
The process has been an emotional roller coaster for the rowing club members. The nonprofit provides boat access, classes and competition for it’s members, and has enjoyed using the city-owned boathouse, rent free, since 1988. It became clear a couple years ago that the boathouse would have to be rebuilt, and, at first, the assumption was the boathouse would remain essentially the same, with the rowing club the primary tenant.
But as the discussions moved forward, people involved in the process began to ask whether giving a members-only club exclusive use of a public building was the best use of the millions that will be invested in the site. Sara Hensley took over at PARD, and staff started to review the agreement the city had with the rowing club, and realized that the city was not obligated to provide the club with a new boathouse. This week, PARD released a timeline for the RFP, which won’t be released until 2010.
“It’s been a little stressful,” says Elizabeth Gardner, president of the Austin Rowing Club. “It’s hard to plan that far ahead, to start with the budgeting and fundraising we will have to do to manage the new facility. It’s scary not knowing what the outcome will be. It would have been much simpler to renegotiate our current agreement.”
Despite the uncertainty, there seems to be broad agreement that the new building will house a boathouse, this one with expanded kayaking and canoeing rentals, as well as a concession stand, like a coffee shop. “We want to make Waller Creek and
Jeb Boyt is an attorney on the Waller Creek Citizens Advisory Committee. He believes the new boathouse is a great opportunity to create a more public space on
Sam Archer, who is on the committee and is also a member of the rowing club, also believes that it’s possible to keep the club in the boathouse, and serve the public at large. “The rowing club has made
But the announcement of the RFP to manage the facility means the rowing club will have competition. Boyt says that Matt Knifton, who runs the
Indeed, the competition is making
The RFP is scheduled to be released in January, and the contract will be awarded in March 2011. Construction is set to begin shortly after that.
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