Once a Temple landmark along Kelly Drive and Boat House Row, the East Park Canoe House was deemed unsuitable for use in 2008 and sits along the river as an abandoned property.
As the downtrodden boathouse is in serious need of renovation, the City of Philadelphia in partnership with the H.F. Lenfest foundation has agreed to do just that, at no cost to the university.
“The city of Philadelphia, in partnership with the H.F. Lenfest Foundation and Gerry Lenfest, will provide more than $5 million to restore and renovate the East Park Canoe House on Kelly Drive,” announced Mayor Michael Nutter on January 24th at a press conference at City Hall.
“As a result, I am pleased to recommend to the Temple University Board of Trustees that men’s crew and women’s rowing be reinstated to their previous status,” said Temple University President Neil Theobald.
Over the past 5 years, the City of Philadelphia has accumulated $2.5 million to contribute to the renovation. The remaining $3 million has been donated to the programs by Temple board member Gerry Lenfest.
“I feel very fortunate that we were in this particular situation,” said rowing coach Rebeccah Smith. “I’m not sure that if we were anywhere else, we would have had the same sort of local support, national support, everybody knows rowing in Philly.”
“Philadelphia is rowing, so I mean, our community has been very supportive and I’m happy that everyone has come together,” said Erin Matz, a sophomore on the rowing team.
Temple University announced on December 6th that seven of it’s twenty-four sports programs would be cut, effective July 1st, 2014, two of which were the men’s crew and women’s rowing teams. This announcement gave all the student-athletes the options to either quit and transfer, without penalty, or persist in hopes of reinstatement.
“You think that everything’s going to be fine, and then it’s not,” said Samantha Sederstand, a freshman rower. “So it’s really hard, especially, I have friends on the baseball team, it’s hard to see what they’re going through right now.”
“You know, we liked to say you don’t take a boathouse to the starting line,” said Coach Smith. “So we have everything we need to be successful, right now.”
“If I quit on them, then I feel that way, I don’t want to let them see that. I don’t want to be that kind of person,” said head crew coach Dr. Gavin White.
Dr. White actually found the program will be saved over the radio with the announcement of the new East Park Canoe House.
The project, which is projected to be completed in a year and half, will transform the East Park Canoe House into a state-of-the-art facility, including a full garden and new equipment for the teams.