Opinion

Editorial: Uncharted waters

Pursuit of a new boathouse has revealed obstacles in a city ordinance.

Building a flagship boathouse for the university’s crew teams has proven to be a challenging course for the university over the past few years.

Even though opposition to the university’s proposal exists, no one’s contesting that the teams ­— which currently operate under tents and a fledgling promise of having a home base like their competition ­— deserve a boathouse. It’s the location of the house that have some, more specifically the Philadelphia Parks Alliance and Fairmount Park Conservancy, up in arms.

The 2011 city ordinance that stands in Temple’s way executes a clear point: Those seeking to take park land away from the public should offer an equal amount to the city in return. The Temple News stands behind the intentions of that law, but questions the pigeonholing nature of it.

Entities like Temple, without sizable land to offer in return, have their hands tied. In response, the university has offered $1.5 million to renovate its former home, the now-condemned East Park Canoe House. That project could put that building back to use in the public’s name; a fair exchange in lieu of the required land offering.

Temple is the first body to try to obtain park land since the ordinance was passed in April 2011.

Although City Council finds itself in a predicament — if members approve the proposal, they open the gates for others seeking to bypass the law — some suggest that the support of Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., who oversees the district with the land in question, means it’s nearly a done deal.

If Council does approve the boathouse, the city should re-evaluate the law and, in clear language, define worthy substitutions for land. Otherwise it defines the law as being murky water — and others might jump in.

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