Value to the Community

Building from the Grassroots

ACBA’s value as a community resource has been repeatedly recognized by public figures, including senior officials of the District of Columbia. In July 2003, Mayor Anthony Williams attended the official opening of our Boathouse building. In October 2005, DDOT Director Dan Tangherlini attended an event at our site celebrating the leasing of the second brick-faced buildings at the site to ACBA and the City’s allocation of $300,000 through a grant from the federal “Transportation Enhancement Program” to convert that “Second Building” into a community recreation center, which will support both the Boathouse and users of the Anacostia Riverwalk trail, and will also provide meeting areas for DDOT planning workshops and for community groups.

Mayor Williams returned to the Boathouse in December 2007 to receive the first ACBA Boathouse Champion Award. This award was given in recognition of the Mayor’s leadership in establishing the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative which features recreational usage and access prominently. The Mayor currently stores two canoes on-site. Councilman Tommy Wells is also a frequent Boathouse visitor, participating in the Anacostia Watershed Society’s Sports on the Hill Paddling Program.

Economic Benefit

The City receives a substantial Economic Benefit from those who are associated with Boathouse activities. They buy fuel, hardware, food, supplies to support their programs. Those visiting from out of town generate hotel stays and restaurant visits, all of which generate tax revenue for the District. A very conservative dollar estimate is $600,000 per year. Not reflected in that number, are the number of ACBA members who have purchased or rented homes in the area, in order to be closer to the Boathouse and the river.

In addition, the very presence and high visibility of ACBA’s rowing and paddling programs on our river are helping to improve the investment climate for new businesses, office buildings and residential properties in Wards 6, 7 and 8. Cities like Pittsburgh, Hartford (“Riverfront Recapture”) and numerous cities and towns in the mid-western states have learned that boathouses can be centerpieces for their waterfront revitalizations and attract new businesses and visitors to their warehouse districts. The shells, the Dragon Boats, the outrigger canoes and other boating activity give the patrons at sidewalk cafes and waterfront restaurants something attractive to enjoy.

If a waterfront business community doesn't already have a boathouse, it has to go get one. This means converting an old warehouse (e.g., Cleveland in its ‘Flats’ district along the Cuyahoga River) or building one (Hartford’s new boathouse on the Connecticut River). ACBA and its member organizations are making a significant contribution to changing the public image of the Anacostia River and enhancing the trade and investment climate of Southeast Washington on both sides of the river.