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George Pocock Rowing Foundation to take over boathouse this summer

The Cedar River Boathouse will be under new management this summer. - Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter
The Cedar River Boathouse will be under new management this summer.
— image credit: Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter

There will be new faces and new possibilities on Lake Washington this summer as the George Pocock Rowing Foundation will take over the Cedar River Boathouse this summer.

The boathouse has been home to Cascade Canoe & Kayak Center for the past seven years. This past summer, the city issued a request for proposals on the boathouse lease. Both Cascade and the Pocock Foundation submitted proposals and city staff recommended Pocock.

The new group will take over in April. The lease is for five years.

According to Foundation Executive Director Matthew Lacey, the foundation’s mission is to expand the footprint of rowing in the region and south Lake Washington has long been a goal.

“There are precious few spots where you’ll be able to start up a new rowing project,” Lacey said this week.

According to Facilities Director Peter Renner, the Pocock Foundation is a “well-established club” that has a “fairly sophisticated” organization. But Renner said the city wanted to make sure the rowing club will continue to offer kayak and canoe rentals, as the opportunity for spontaneous recreation was important to the city.

The foundation agreed to continue the kayak and canoe rentals and will add paddleboard rentals to the services offered. Paddleboards are the surfboard-like crafts on which people stand up and paddle with an oar.

The Pocock Foundation also has plans to create rowing programs for kids and adults in Renton, one of the primary reasons staff went with their proposal instead of Cascade’s. The foundation promises increased hours of operation,  a year-round presence and more collaboration with the Renton Rowing Club, who supported their proposal.

The Pocock proposal also includes “much higher revenue” to the city than Cascade’s, according to the summary on the City Council agenda bill, though it admits that is “not the highest priority” for the facility.

In addition, Renner said the foundation will invest at least $100,000 to move the current floating dock from the lake side of the building over to the Boeing side.

The community outreach seemed to be the most important aspect of the foundation’s proposal and Lacey said that is the foundation’s primary goal. With youth programs planned for 10 months out of the year, Lacey said he hopes to build “excitement” for the sport in Renton, a sport that has tremendous health benefits and also teaches teamwork and discipline, Lacey said.

“This is an easy way for kids in Renton … to learn how to do it,” he said. “We really want this program to be a gem in the community.”

Lacey said he expects adult rowing opportunities to begin in May with programs for kids starting this summer.

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