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New Community Boathouse Will Make Green Lake More Accessible to All

Washington State becomes latest partner in long-anticipated project

A new community boathouse that will make Green Lake more accessible to people of any background or ability level will open in 2021. Community volunteers, in partnership with Green Lake Rowing Advisory Council, Associated Recreation Council, and Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club, have raised a total of $5.4 million from public and private sources towards the $6.5 million goal. This includes $951,000 awarded by Washington State Recreation and Conservation office on June 27 and $3 million from the Seattle Park District Major Projects Challenge Fund.

“Our city is surrounded by water, but not everyone can safely or affordably enjoy it, including Green Lake, the most widely used park in our state” said Mike Stanley, president of Green Lake Rowing Advisory Council. “The new community boathouse will be a permanent public gateway to access Green Lake for generations to come.”

The current Green Lake Small Craft Center (GLSCC) houses the 70-year-old Green Lake Crew. Started by storied UW rowing coach Al Ulbrickson in 1948, it is believed to be oldest public junior rowing program in the nation. In 1963, long before Title IX, the crew added a girl’s program, another first for the region. In its seven decades, the crew has introduced thousands of Seattle youth to rowing, opening doors to a diverse community, and even launching some to success on the national and international stage.

The 10,600 square-foot facility will increase capacity for programs through a combination of expanded and more efficient boat storage and additional instructional space. It will be fully accessible, which makes possible the launch of Seattle’s first public adaptive rowing program and expansion of a parapaddling program. Specialized programs of Seattle Parks and Recreation will also be able to expand their work with individuals of differing physical and cognitive abilities.

User safety will be improved through restrooms, locker facilities, and areas for off-water instruction and community meeting space. In addition, the new boathouse will better engage with Green Lake Park and the heavily used adjacent walking trail. 

“Engagement with the park is a core goal of the project.  We want the public to see all that we do and the building, by its design, will feel much more inclusive,” said Mike Stanley.

“This project will transform lives, from youth to seniors,” said Bob Ratliffe, chair of the Green Lake Community Boathouse Campaign. “Through my children’s rowing, I have witnessed how time in a boat on Green Lake builds confidence and lifelong friendships. This will be a real community treasure.”

The Seattle Park District Major Project Challenge Fund(MPCF) provided seed funding for a pre-design/feasibility study in 2016/2017 and in the 2018 MPCF awarded $2.92 million. The project also has support from both the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and King County Parks in the form of early grants. “Now with the strong support from the State and the City, we are excited to launch the final phase of the private fundraising campaign,” said Mike Stanley. “We clearly have momentum on our side.”

To stay up to date on the progress of the Green Lake Small Craft Center visit

In partnership with Seattle Parks and Recreation, the public watersport programs at Green Lake are driven and sustained by three nonprofit organizations:

About Associated Recreation Council (ARC)
Seattle Parks and Recreation created this nonprofit partner in 1975 to support and enhance their work. ARC makes equitable, dynamic, culturally relevant, and responsive recreation and lifelong learning programs possible for every Seattle resident. ARC fulfills this mission with the help and support of 36 volunteer-led Advisory Councils around Seattle.

About Green Lake Rowing Advisory Council (RAC)
RAC is one of the 36 volunteer ARC Advisory Councils and guides the activities of Green Lake Crew, the first public youth rowing program in the nation at its founding in 1948. RAC supports opportunities for lifetime enjoyment of watersports on Green Lake. Contact Jill MacCorkle at 206-902-6463 or

About Seattle Canoe and Kayak Club (SCKC) Founded in 1969, SCKC is the only public club in Seattle promoting competitive and recreational paddling opportunities for all ages and ability levels.