New Boathouse Is Home Sweet Home

Community Boathouse Home | Photo Gallery | Springfield Republican Story (Featuring Video)

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (April 26, 2010) - The Mount Holyoke crew team finally has a home.

State officials, community leaders, local residents, and members of the Mount Holyoke community joined together yesterday, to celebrate the opening of a community boathouse that will provide a new home for the College's crew program and house a number of community-based programs.

Richard Sullivan, commissioner of the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), and State Representative John Scibak both hailed the completion of the facility as an important step for both the College and the community at a celebratory event that included dozens of past and present participants in Mount Holyoke's crew program and many Friends of Rowing.

Sullivan, who has been a strong supporter of the project, praised the College for its commitment to offering community programming and to partnering with DCR on its Universal Access program for disabled rowers at the facility. He also noted how this project represents another instance of river-based recreation opportunities being opened up in the Commonwealth.

"On behalf of Governor Patrick, I want to thank the Mount Holyoke community and congratulate everyone involved: builders, students, alumnae, and community members," Sullivan said.

The $2.1 million community boathouse, at 240 Ferry Street, is situated on an 8.5-acre, College-owned parcel. The 4,750-square-foot, single-story, barn-style facility contains boat storage, two small bathrooms, and a warm-up/stretching area. In recent years, the crew program has been housed at Brunelle's Marina in South Hadley.

boathouseCrew began at Mount Holyoke in 1976 and has grown from a small club to one of the College's largest varsity teams. The team has been involved in community outreach for many years and in many venues. Dreams of a boathouse began, by some accounts, in 1989, setting in motion a 21-year climb of planning, land acquisition, and securing permissions at every level of the regulatory ladder.

The new facility, which, Representative Scibak noted, will give more community members access to one of the area’s underappreciated resources--the Connecticut River--has been a long time coming.

As Scibak pointed out, speaking to members of the crew team, "This project was in the making before many of you were born."

To longtime crew coach Jeanne Friedman, the wait was worth it.

"We should not think of this place as a boathouse, but as a boat home," Friedman said. "It's a place of security, a place of permanence, a place for creating memories, and a place for outreach."

Indeed, the new facility will allow the College to continue or expand programming, including:

  • Access for South Hadley Fire District #2 and the South Hadley Police Department;
  • Training support for the Care Center of Holyoke's "Rowing Strong, Rowing Together" program, a nationally recognized program for teenage mothers that includes teams from New Haven, Hartford, and Boston;
  • Greater South Hadley Youth Rowing, a program that has been piloted and will be implemented with a new facility;
  • Adaptive Rowing, a program for the differently-abled; and
  • Community rowing for adults, piloted this summer with 12 participants.

According to Mary Jo Maydew, vice president for finance and administration, there are many people and organizations to thank for the success of the project.

The College gained widespread support for this project from the Town of South Hadley and a variety of public and private organizations, including the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the South Hadley Department of Recreation, Northampton Youth and Community Rowing, Inc., the Community Adolescent Resource and Education Center of Holyoke, and the Foundation for Rowing Education of Northampton.

In addition, support came from elected officials, including Congressman Richard Neal.

Wrapping up the speaking program was one of the captains of the crew team, Jess Suhowatsky '10, who noted, "I feel very lucky to be a part of this transformation. Thanks to everyone who brought such spirit to this project. You've inspired current rowers and future teams.”

After the speaking program opening the new boathouse, the crew team also welcomed a new boat into the facility, christening the Antonio Epifano, made possible through support from the Mount Holyoke Friends of Rowing.

The general contractor for the project was Marois Construction of South Hadley.