February 24, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Temple University President Neil D. Theobald announced that the City of Philadelphia, in partnership with the Lenfest Foundation, will provide more than $5 million to restore and renovate the East Park Canoe House, also known as the Temple Boathouse, on Kelly Drive in East Fairmount Park.
“The City of Philadelphia is blessed to have two beautiful rivers, one of which was named the 2014 River of the Year – the Schuylkill River,” said Mayor Nutter. “The Schuylkill River and its amenities, namely the Boathouses and recreation trails, are iconic landmarks that make our great city unique. It is incumbent upon us to preserve these historical treasures for future Philadelphians. The City of Philadelphia thanks Mr. Lenfest and the Lenfest Foundation for understanding the importance of these amenities, and helping us secure and improve upon them.”
The City of Philadelphia has committed $2.5 million to the project and the Lenfest Foundation committed $3 million. Together, this funding will be used to provide renovated public restrooms, office and storage space for the Marine Police, and new lockers and boat storage for the Temple crew teams. The funds will also be used for site improvements like a rebuilt parking lot and landscaping.
“On behalf of everyone at Temple University, I want to thank Mayor Nutter and Mr. Lenfest for their extraordinary efforts to bring the historic East Park Canoe House to new life,” said Temple University President Theobald. “The renovation and improvements to the Canoe House will make it possible for Temple University to return men’s crew and women’s rowing to their former status as varsity sports.”
Temple University will have a long-term lease at the renovated East Park Canoe House, similar to the historical arrangement it’s had for many years. Once design plans are finalized and a contractor is selected, construction is expected to last between 12 and 18 months.
Mayor Nutter also discussed other planned improvements for Kelly Drive and Boathouse Row. The City of Philadelphia has allocated $1 million to repair a portion of the Schuylkill River retaining wall along Kelly Drive beginning at the Strawberry Mansion Bridge extending to the St. Joseph’s University Boathouse. Additionally, the City has secured a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR) grant of $250,000, which will be matched by funds from Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and the Philadelphia Water Department in the amount of $125,000 each, to install rain gardens along the Kelly Drive recreation trail beginning at the St. Joseph’s University Boathouse to manage storm-water runoff.