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Clark Park Boathouse Almost Ready to Row

 The Clark Park boathouse is set to open later this summer.
Clark Park Boathouse
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ROSCOE VILLAGE — The Clark Park boathouse has been rising largely out of view along the Chicago River, but it's about to make big splash — indoors and out.

Pending the connection of electrical service, the boathouse should be ready for occupancy by mid-July, with Aug. 3 set as the anticipated date for a public open house, according to a manager for the Chicago Rowing Foundation.

The foundation, the umbrella organization of Lincoln Park Juniors Chicagowill be managing the boathouse for the Chicago Park District, which owns the building.

The main attraction at Clark Park, 3400 N. Rockwell St., is sure to be its indoor rowing tank, which can be configured to accommodate 40 rowers simultaneously.

"It's like being in a boat indoors," said Betsy Trevarthen, community outreach program manager for the rowing foundation, who met Tuesday night with members of the Clark Park Advisory Council.

Though much of the programming is still being finalized, Trevarthen said she expected the boathouse would offer open tank hours, perhaps for $10 per session, much like a yoga studio.

Drop-in hours are also likely to be scheduled for the boathouse's ERG machines (that's technical speak for rowing machines).

"We'll have some fitness classes on the ERG," she said, along with adaptive rowing classes for people with disabilities. Beginners can take advantage of "learn to row" classes, which typically last six to seven weeks and cost $125.

The foundation will manage programming out of the 20,000-square-foot facility, which was designed by Jeanne Gang's Studio Gang Architects

The building, which carries a $7.4 million price tag — $1 million in TIF dollars, $2.45 million from the Park District and $3.95 million from private donors — has an undulating peaked roof line intended to mimic the motion of a rowing stroke.

"We coach it, we facilitate it, we run it, but it's open to the public," Trevarthen said.

To encourage use even by non-rowers, the foundation is planning a monthly lecture series and will also offer tutoring in the facility's community space. In effect, Trevarthen said, the boathouse will function much like any other Park District fieldhouse, albeit one with a major emphasis on rowing.

The foundation, which currently operates its teams and classes out of a floating boathouse at 1956 N. Kingsbury St., will begin moving rowing shells to Clark Park in July. The new facility will become the home base for the Lincoln Park Juniors teen and middle school teams. Adult teams will remain at Kingsbury.

North Park University has also been allotted storage space at the boathouse.

The hours between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. will be blocked out on weekdays for Lincoln Park Juniors' rowing practices, Trevarthen said. Community rowing will occur before 4 p.m. and on weekends.

Trevarthen said she expects the foundation to pursue the formation of rowing clubs at nearby Lane Tech and Gordon Tech high schools — students would join their respective school's club but row under the LPJ banner.

Students from 45 different schools already row for LPJ. Fees total approximately $1,800 for fall and spring sessions, including travel expenses to regattas. Some 33 percent of rowers receive financial assistance, according to the organization's website.

A separate canoe and kayak vendor will also operate a rental business out of the boathouse.

The Clark Park boathouse is one of four announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in September 2011. The remainder will be located at River Park in Albany Park, near Canal Origins Park in Bridgeport and Ping Tom Park in Chinatown.