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Boat House Row

By lukey - Published July 11, 2008 - Viewed 9036 times

Last night we attended a civic meeting to understand about the redevelopment of "Boat House Row", that all-but-forgotten strip of land following the Anacostia River in  DC. The Near Southeast Urban Design Framework describes the area thusly: "Cut off from rest of the Near Southeast to the west and the Capitol Hill district the north by highway overpasses and rail connections, this sub-area has been physically and psychologically isolated." Anyway, it is home to a number of small-but-mighty rowing and powerboat clubs and not much else.

It is interesting to see how DC politics works. What they lack from non-existent representation on the national political scene, they make up for in local, vocal political action. Time and time again, local neighbors band together and actually make changes in their communities. Not monumental changes (excuse the pun, for congress builds the monuments for the world to admire), but changes that affect their livelihood, their schools and their recreation. You want something done? Forget about hiring high-priced lobbyists, and big-party politics.  Invite a bunch of peope to your local school and  talk. Woe be the local politician who snubs these gatherings. This is democracy at its most public and representative and there are lots of populist council members-to-be just waiting to take their place.

So, about 300 people attended the meeting. Significant only if you consider that total membership of all the boat clubs combined adds up to about 200. Does this signify that the residents of the neighborhood on the other side of the tracks are now going to have a place to enjoy the water? I certainly hope so. All water is beautiful and should be enjoyed by as many people as reasonable. So the number one thing we all took from the meeting is this... There will be no private development along that stretch. No mega-marinas catering to the wealthy and excluding the locals. There will be areas for fishing, picknicking, launching small boats and just watching the water go by. And the few modest boat clubs that exist will be allowed to stay.

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