ARC Done a Disservice in PARD Article

RECEIVED Tue., July 28, 2009

Dear Editor,
    I was enjoying the article about Sara Hensley and the Parks & Recreation Department ["Sara Hensley Turns Over a New Leaf," News, July 24] until I reached the “Rich Uncle Poor Relation” section. You mention that PARD has been giving away the farm for decades and use the Austin Rowing Club as an example. What wasn’t mentioned is that:
    1) No, we don’t pay rent, but this is how our contract was written when the boathouse was donated to the city by the Southland Corporation in the Eighties.
    2) ARC has paid for almost every repair and upgrade to the facility, above and beyond our contract.
    3) We are the only nonprofit rowing organization on Lady Bird Lake.
    4) We are volunteer-driven and are good neighbors on and off the water by promoting rowing to the public through affordable rowing classes, offering free learn-to-row days and juniors programs, working with Sierra Club and Keep Austin Beautiful on lake cleanup days, and donating time and money to groups such as People’s Community Clinic, Hospice Austin, Martin Middle School, and the East Town Lake Neighborhood Association.
    5) Our events and programs bring thousands of rowers and spectators to Austin each year and have an annual economic impact of approximately $1.8 million.
    6) Most park concessions pay the city between $15,000 and $80,000 a year, and we will have a similar contract if we are awarded the contract to continue managing PARD’s boathouse.
    7) We have many new outreach programs in the works that weren’t possible in the old boathouse either because of space limitations or because it wasn’t compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
    ARC was established by the Texas Legislature to promote the sport of rowing, and this wouldn’t have been possible without PARD. We look forward to the potential the new boathouse brings and promoting both the missions of ARC and the Parks Department.
Respectfully,
Elisabeth Gardner
ARC President
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