Housing Complex

Attorney General Won’t Rule on Jack’s Boathouse

With all the madness surrounding Jack's Boathouse in Georgetown—the National Park Service is trying to terminate its lease with Jack's and open the space to a new concession next month, while Jack's owner Paul Simkin asserts that NPS doesn't in fact have jurisdiction over the land and hasn't lived up to its obligations on the waterfront—it seemed that resolution was most likely to come from the D.C. attorney general. Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans had passed the case along to the attorney general's office, which then reached out to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for a look at the land records. Multiple people told me they hoped that a ruling from the attorney general's would be the authoritative decision on the matter.

But now I'm told by the attorney general's office that it won't be issuing a formal opinion.

What that means Jack's Boathouse's next steps isn't entirely clear. Simkin's lawyer, Charles Camp, tells me he plans to sue to prevent another boathouse operator from coming in. "Anybody that tries to take the business is going to be sued," he says. "No one should bid on this unless they want to be sued." Camp expects that the suit would prevent another operator from starting for at least another year or two—though Simkin says the uncertainty would still make it difficult for him to hire workers and continue his operations.

NPS has expressed confidence that it has jurisdiction over the territory and plans to move forward with the concession bid. "We believe that the NPS has full jurisdiction over the Georgetown Waterfront Park, including where Jack's operates," says NPS spokeswoman Jennifer Mummart.

So the only thing that's clear for now is that the fight will go on.

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