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City council passes Buckeye boathouse

Columbus City Council unanimously passed the construction bid for Ohio State’s new boathouse Monday.

The boathouse, which will cost the university more than $5 million, will be built on the west side of the Scioto River in Duranceaux Park and be capable of accommodating the rowing team. The OSU rowing team previously used a trailer as a changing room and piled their boats in an old steel shed. The rowers will now change and store their equipment in a state-of-the-art facility.

Over the summer, the latest construction bid was passed by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department Commission, and on Sept. 21, the council had its first reading of the bid, said Lynn Friedman, co-chair of Friends of Duranceaux Park.

The project, which had been prolonged due to strong opposition over the past 19 months, was clearly on the minds of nearly every spectator in the gallery. Both sides were able to speak their thoughts to the council. Nearly half the spectators were young, concerned rowers.

“I don’t think any of us arrived at this decision easily,” Councilman Hearsel Craig told the gallery after casting his vote. “The simple fact is that we would not have been here if we did not have concerned citizens.”

The Friends of Duranceaux Park group has opposed the construction of the boathouse since the community found out about it in March of 2008. They are concerned about increased traffic and worry that the overall aesthetic of the park will be diminished. In a previous interview with The Lantern, Friedman said the new facility would be a “party house” for OSU.

The group has asked OSU and the city of Columbus to consider building the boathouse on the east side of the river, and has been vocal at committee meetings, going as far as meeting with OSU Board of Trustees members this summer.

“We’re very appreciative, it’s been a joint project,” said Ben Jay, senior associate athletics director for finance and operations. “More importantly, it will fulfill the mission for the Columbus Department of Recreation of Parks of moving youth rowing programs to a new facility.”

OSU and the CDRP have both continued to emphasize the benefits to the community that the boathouse presents.

The boathouse would allow OSU’s rowing team to be more competitive with other schools, they say. It would also provide Columbus more access to the river, better lighting and a public dock, said Mollie O’Donnell, planning director of CDRP, in a previous interview.

The city of Columbus will also be able to rent out the main room of the facility for events, which will help balance the costs of maintaining the facility.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Jay said.

With contracts currently underway with Robertson Construction Services Inc., Jay hopes to have the project completed by next year.

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