Housing Complex

Norton Urges Park Service Not to Screw Up Jack’s Boathouse

The controversy over Jack's Boathouse is heating up, and D.C.'s representative in Congress just weighed in.

The National Park Service is seeking to end its longterm relationship with the popular Georgetown boathouse and open up the space to bids for a concession contract, which it hopes to award by the end of next month. Jack's owner Paul Simkin objects to the move, alleging 1) that NPS has been hostile to him; 2) that the bidding competition won't be fair; 3) that NPS hasn't been holding up its end of the deal by maintaining the waterfront facilities; and 4) that the land doesn't belong to NPS in the first place. NPS disputes these charges, and the matter has been referred to the D.C. attorney general for a ruling.

But in the meantime, political pressure on NPS is beginning to mount. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, who referred the case to the attorney general, says he'll do what he can to back Jack's. And just now, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton sent a letter to NPS Director Jon Jarvis urging him to sit down with Simkin and work out a solution that doesn't force Jack's to leave.

"I was concerned and puzzled when the National Park Service (NPS) abruptly terminated Jack’s Boathouse’s lease," Norton wrote. "I was even more troubled to learn that NPS decided to move ahead with business as usual and open requests for proposals for a concession contract as if there were no differences between the circumstances at Jack’s Boathouse and the usual NPS concession contract."

Norton wrote that Simkin had made "significant investments in what you believed to be NPS-owned property," including much of his retirement savings, and that the changes have been well received by the community. (Simkin says his customer base has increased for 4,000 people four years ago to 72,000 people this past boating season.)

"While securing the best deal for the taxpayer, NPS has an obligation to explain its complicity in allowing significant investments in this property and then terminating the lease without notice," Norton wrote. "NPS has an obligation to ensure fairness to Simkin, to the taxpayers, and to the community. The present posture of NPS promises only more controversy, lawsuits, and interruption of service to the community. A solution consistent with federal law and regulations that takes into account the unusual circumstances of the Jack’s Boathouse matter is quite possible. I urge you to take the time to sit down with all the parties to work through a reasonable solution."

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • Jane Doe

    I can't believe she is backing this sleazeball without checking into the facts
    1. How about reading the police report about Simkin dumping human waste on the site? It will tell you all you need to know about the guy. (spoiler alert: Simkin will claim he is being persecuted by the park service even though he was cited last August)
    2. You would think Simkin had been the owner of Jack's for 40 years. It's been three. Ask the real Jack's family how they feel about him
    3. What kind of idiot invests his life savings in a property on which he has a month to month lease? From the condition of the place, not Simkin. Has the congresswoman even gone down to see what conditions are there.
    4. The business is closed for the season. No one was put out of work as Simkin claims.
    This guy is a conman and a grifter and has managed to manipulate a public without facts and now a congresswoman without facts. She might have asked the park service what was going on before grandstanding with a letter announced Ina press release.

  • Jane Doe

    C'mon Aaron, do your homework

  • http://www.cumberlandharbourga.com Atlantic Development Group

    ITS FANTASTIC!!!!!!!

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    While Jack’s Boat House has a long history, this guy is a JOKE. Simkin is trying to manipulate the system and prevent the Park Service from offer the concession for competitive bid as required by law. He does have a right and is not being prevented from submitting a proposal in the competitive process. I am disappointed that our Congresswoman and Councilmember Jack Evans would even attempt to intervene in the process without knowing all the facts of at least seeking a better understanding. SIMKIN was charged with Unauthorized Disposal of Solid Waste and completed a diversion program on January 16, 2013; result in the case being Nolle, according to DC Superior Court records.
    My only concern is that this guy has raised the issue of a rider in the transfer deed that raises a question of ownership of the property by US Park Service or the District Government. The AG should determine the status and issue a ruling so the bidding process can move forward without delay. This will allow the Boat House to open on time for the upcoming season and end this nightmare.

  • Jake

    Really Jane doe? If you were speaking the truth then you'd use your own name. I'll give your comments as much credence as they deserve...none.

  • No Fan

    There is no greater waste of space in DC then Holmes Norton. Anyone opposing Simkin should be elated.

  • Jane Doe

    Jake, everything I wrote is easily verifiable. I suggest you do that.