Construction on the East Park Canoe House on Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River will reach “substantial completion” by the end of June and officials say the rowing and crew teams will be able to move into the new boathouse by the end of September.
Renovations began in July 2015 after a partnership agreement between the city and Temple trustee, H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest. Lenfest and the city combined to donate $5.5 million to fund the restoration.
The restoration will include new locker rooms for the rowing and crew teams in the southern wing, storage for the boats and oars in the northern wing, and space for the Philadelphia’s Police Department’s marine unit in the center block of the boathouse. Men’s crew Assistant Coach, Brian Perkins, is excited about the impact the boathouse will have on his program in the future.
“It’s going to have a huge effect on recruiting, really, just sort of to bring guys in,” Perkins said. “People in Philadelphia, they know that Temple people are tough, and that’s okay. But if you bring people in from out of town, you know, international athletes, you want to show them a nice facility and now we’ll have that.”
For now, both teams will continue working out of military-grade tents a quarter-mile down from the boathouse. Women’s Rowing Coach, Rebecca, Grzybowski stressed that even with the addition of the boathouse, her team’s mentality to be successful won’t change.
“It attracts a gritty personality,” Grzybowski said. “So to me, it will definitely add to the comfort factor and it will let us sort of relax into what we’re trying to do a little bit more and we’ll be a lot more comfortable. But it doesn’t necessarily change the drive or the goals at all for the program,” she adds.
Perkins mentioned that the military tents they use haven’t always protected the boats from the weather. Dating back to a time in 2010, the tents caused damage to the boats due to the roof collapsing from falling tree branches and gusty winds. As a result, there were $40,000 and $400 dollars in damage to the boats and oars.
“The boats bake in the summer and freeze in the winter,” Perkins said. “There’s no shelter from the elements at all.”
Perkins said the boats can last anywhere from four to six years in the tents, but cannot be sold once they have been worn out. However, in the boathouse, he said the boats would last an additional two to three years and could still be sold at resale value.
University Architect Margaret Carney said the boathouse will be safe and usable by June but will still need to be furnished before the crew and rowing teams can move in by the end of September.