Temple cancels plan for Schuylkill boathouse

The East Park Canoe House on Kelly Drive. (Charles Fox / Inquirer) PCANOE30P, 1/29/08, EAST PARK CANOE HOUSE, KELLY DRIVE, PHILA., PA
The East Park Canoe House on Kelly Drive. (Charles Fox / Inquirer) PCANOE30P, 1/29/08, EAST PARK CANOE HOUSE, KELLY DRIVE, PHILA., PA (INQ FOX)
Posted: May 03, 2013

Temple University has withdrawn its proposal to build a new boathouse along the Schuylkill after concerns were raised that the university was not providing replacement parkland as required by a city ordinance.

Kenneth Lawrence Jr., a senior vice president at Temple, wrote in a letter Tuesday to Nancy Goldenberg, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, that the university was "not in a position to make a commitment" without further study of its options.

At a January hearing, Temple was criticized for proposing to give the city $1.5 million to repair the East Park Canoe House, the university's former rowing home, instead of offering substitute green space for the now-withdrawn boathouse site near the Strawberry Mansion Bridge.

"We acknowledge this concern and would like to make sure it is addressed," Lawrence wrote.

"Following the hearing, the commission asked that we explore the redevelopment of the blighted East Park Canoe House as a home for Temple rowing. We are still carefully exploring this option but are not in a position to make a commitment without further planning, consideration, and discussion with stakeholders that will take place through our Visualize Temple planning process," Lawrence wrote.

In December, Lawrence said that the East Park Canoe House, which was declared unsafe and closed in 2008, was "not suitable for redevelopment as a boathouse" because of regulatory requirements and the building's inadequate size.

The proposed new boathouse would have had 23,000 square feet compared with the East Park Canoe House, which is 9,000 square feet.

Since 2008, the university's rowers have been operating out of tents.

Lawrence has said the old boathouse could be "brought back to life" with the $1.5 million to make it available for new generations of rowers at Fairmount Park.

The Philadelphia Parks Alliance had called for Temple to be held accountable to the Open Lands Protection Ordinance enacted by the city in 2011.

The alliance on Wednesday hailed Temple's withdrawal as a successful first test of the fledgling ordinance.

"The Parks Alliance looks forward to further discussion about Temple's possible renovation of the East Park Canoe House," the alliance said in an e-mail.


Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.

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