Originally created 08/29/96

Olympic scullers soon to have a home



The Augusta Rowing Club and Olympic scullers will be able to move into a permanent boathouse by the end of November, club officials predict.

Contractors poured the boathouse's concrete flooring last week and, beginning Monday, will start construction of the building's locker room and showers, said Larry Fletcher, who is overseeing construction for the rowing club.

"It's real exciting to see things coming together," Mr. Fletcher said. "With some luck, we might be able to move in in time for the (Nov. 9) Augusta Head Race."

The boathouse is being constructed in the space beneath the former restaurant-turned-nightclub on Riverfront Drive. The club and Olympic rowers will have boat storage, weightlifting, and shower facilities in the lower level. The city, which bought the building this summer, will rent the upper levels to private groups for events such as wedding receptions and parties.

City and club officials expect the project to be completed for under the $850,000 set aside for purchasing and renovating the building.

Local rowing and community leaders have been working on a permanent home for the Augusta rowing club since before 1990. That project took on a greater urgency two years ago when an Augusta delegation convinced the U.S. Rowing Association to move the U.S. National Sculling Center from Occoquan, Va., to Augusta.

But the Olympic scullers, who went on to win a silver medal, missed out on the new boathouse, training instead from a metal warehouse on Riverfront Drive. Rowing club officials hope the completion of the boathouse will convince USRowing, the American governing body for the sport, to keep the sculling center in Augusta in preparation for the 2000 Olympics.