Ever wonder if those public meetings ever make a difference? Is there a question in your mind as to whether a few folks with a good idea would ever get help from the local Councils, departments and bureaucracies? Well, the story of Sammamish Rowing should warm your heart.

It was in 1995 that some ex-rowers who had heard about an abandoned boathouse showed up at a Marymoor Master Plan public meeting to ask if it could be opened as a community rowing facility. We caught them just a week or so before the boathouse was scheduled for demolition. Over the next year, as we were educated about the many challenges of the mission (such as a sewage treatment plant that needed to be removed and a pristine natural site that needed nurturing), we were also coached, supported and assisted into becoming a partner with King County Parks.

It turned out that they had what we needed: the site, a little money, program expertise and many of the permits and processes. And we had what they needed: Volunteers, time, energy, a little more money and rowing expertise.

To convert the old boathouse there was a work party that lasted an entire weekend. We pulled off what was left of the original roof and put a new roof on the boathouse. The boathouse was a mess, but basically empty. The racks on the north side of the boathouse were there, and some old racks in the middle that we later replaced. The oar rack at the east end of the boathouse was there, but it was smaller then. There was no water, phone, or electricity.

At first, the 5am class used a lot of flashlights to find their way around. Later, Hod Fowler wired up the boathouse for electricity but there was still no power running to the boathouse. Instead, we used our own generator. So the first job in the morning was to start up the generator. Much later, there was yet another work party to run the electricity down from the road, along with water and phone.

So with a great deal of hard work, cooperation, and enthusiasm on both sides, SRA and King County Parks have come together to create a community asset and, hopefully, a model for future public/private citizen partnerships which might enable many other activities almost as wonderful as being in a long boat, moving fast over a flat lake on a clear morning.