At first, the question was whether Temple University should renovate its decrepit old boathouse, which the crew team hadn’t occupied since 2008. Then the question was whether to build a new boathouse. Subsequently, another question was raised: Could the new boathouse be sited on Kelly Drive, under the Strawberry Mansion Bridge? Leading to another question: If so, how to hold Temple accountable for the parkland lost when the boathouse was built? The debate over each question was fierce, particularly the last one, which pitted conservationists and parkland advocates against players and enthusiasts of college athletics.
If we could add the hours of argument up, and then multiply by a factor of emotion, aggravation, passion and despair, the number would soar into the stratosphere — so many minutes gone, never to be gained again. And for what? The tragic reality is that Temple no longer has a crew team. The point is moot.
Temple has announced it is nixing a raft of athletic programs, including crew, in what is, according to Deadspin, a misguided attempt to excel at one thing (football) rather than be mediocre (or excel) at several. The affront to rowers is especially harsh precisely because of how hard they fought a battle that consumed so much time and energy outside of the water.
One good thing did come of all the backing and forthing: The debate served as a test case for a 2011 Council ordinance that demands that if an organization or institution takes public parkland, it must find a replacement parcel so that the city doesn’t suffer a loss of green space. Temple ultimately withdrew its petition for the Kelly Drive spot, primarily because it was unable to adhere to the ordinance. Green space saved — and good thing, too.
• How Temple Football Pulled Everything Down With It [Deadspin]
• Who Will Win: Temple U or Advocates for Philly Parkland? [Curbed Philly]
• Temple Abandons Plans for Controversial New Schuylkill Boathouse [PhillyMag.com]