NPS Terminates Lease of Jack's Boathouse in Georgetown

Landowner NPS says lease is no longer valid but has not explained why

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The owner of Jack's Boathouse -- a long-time kayak-rental business near the Key Bridge -- says the National Park Service has ordered the business off its property.

    The owner of Jack's Boathouse -- a long-time kayak-rental business near the Key Bridge -- says the National Park Service has ordered the business to shut down.

    "We found just a form letter, saying that we were terminated and had to be out in 30 days; everyhing had to be out in 30 days," owner Paul Simkin told News4's Derrick Ward.

    Simkin said he recently received a letter from the NPS saying that his lease will be terminated Jan. 13,  as the Georgetowner first reported:

    "The Jack's Boathouse family is heartbroken that after 70 years on the same location, we are told in a form letter that we must be out by 30 days," Simkin said. "Hearing this at Christmastime will be a huge blow to our 27 employees at Jack's Boathouse who are losing their jobs which makes this even harder."

    Simkin said he didn't get much explanation from the NPS and notes that the business has been thriving, with 72,000 visitors last summer. The Water Street boathouse rents kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddles, and features a popular, colorfully decorated dock where boaters can socialize before and after their trips.

    Jack's Boathouse has been open since 1945, but it's located on land owned by the NPS.

    The NPS says the lease is no longer valid but has not explained why. The agency simply said it wants to provide recreational activities as a concession at the site, and that Simkin is free to submit a proposal to operate the concession.

    A statement from the NPS reads in part:

    The recreational services offered and public access to the Potomac River are important to the NPS and and will be offered as a concession contract. This concession will be announced within a few days through a fair and open process. Mr. Simkin is free to submit a proposal for the opportunity to operate the concession.... The conversion to a concession will be complete by February 1, 2013, and we anticipate no interruption of service at the site.

    A Change.org petition and a Facebook group, Save Jack's Boathouse From Closure, have popped up in response.

    The petition has a familiar name behind it: Jesse Rauch is known for beginning a movement that ultimately saved the popular Screen on the Green movie series on the National Mall.