The process of getting the men’s crew team and women’s rowing team out of the tents they’ve occupied for the past five years and into a boathouse is getting increasingly more complicated. While the student-athletes hold onto hope of establishing a home base in the future, the most recent obstacle is the city’s worries about preserving the past.
The Philadelphia Commission on Parks & Recreation has asked that Temple focus its boathouse goals on renovating the East Park Canoe House, a building listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places that the Owls occupied until it was condemned in 2008. The commission extended the deadline to April 30 for making a recommendation to City Council on Temple’s preferred proposal of building a new boathouse, until the university assesses if renovating the building to accommodate the rowing programs while preserving the building’s historical stature is feasible.
The focus of the commission’s latest concern is putting Temple in an unfair situation. After the building was condemned under the city’s ownership, it now wants Temple to fix it instead of building a new facility. While Temple’s 20/20 plan supports working within its existing footprint, it doesn’t make sense to try altering a building that won’t be of suitable size for the program.
Why is the city all of a sudden concerned so much about the historical significance of a building that was condemned under its watch?
Temple originally proposed the construction of an entirely new boathouse on the east side of the Schuylkill River on Kelly Drive, along with a donation of $1.5 million to renovate the canoe house to make up for a city ordinance that requires entities seeking to obtain ownership of public parkland to give back an equal plot to the city. With no public land to give, the monetary compromise was suggested.
The Temple News has previously expressed concern about the pigeonholing nature of the ordinance, but while it would set a weak precedent by allowing Temple to bypass the law, it’s the better option to allow Temple to build its new boathouse while also receiving funding to help restore the canoe house for potential use of the public.