WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP)— Underneath the Key Bride on the Georgetown waterfront in the District sits a watery oasis from the city life.

Jack’s Boathouse is where thousands of people go, when it’s warm enough, to canoe, kayak and paddleboard in the Potomac River. In operation since 1945, the boathouse has a lease on the location from the National Park Service.

But recently, NPS contacted current owner Paul Simkin and informed him that the month-to-month lease that has been in effect and unchanged since 1982 is being terminated so the property can be opened up for new bids.

NPS says it wants to treat the business like other commercial ventures inside national parks. Simkin is free to bid for the concession contract, and he’ll be allowed to continue operating until the contract is awarded.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton recently entered the discussion by asking NPS to talk things out with Simkin. Norton says she appreciates NPS trying to get the best deal for taxpayers but is troubled by the announcement, especially after the owner poured his retirement savings into upgrading the property.

In a letter to National Park Service Director John Jarvis dated Jan. 24, she wrote:

“I strongly endorse competitive bidding as required by law. However, this was not a usual concession on NPS property. While securing the best deal for the taxpayer, NPS has an obligation to explain its complicity in allowing significant investments in this property and then terminating the lease without notice. NPS has an obligation to ensure fairness to Simkin, to the taxpayers, and to the community. The present posture of NPS promises only more controversy, lawsuits, and interruption of service to the community. A solution consistent with federal law and regulations that takes into account the unusual circumstances of the Jack’s Boathouse matter is quite possible.”

There’s even a petition on change.org to save Jack’s. It was organized by the same man who fought to save the National Mall’s “Screen on the Green.”

WNEW’s Matt DelSignore contributed to this report. Follow him on Twitter.

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(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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