Norristown is often complimented for it's riverfront real estate, but it's rare that the feature gets any real attention or use by most residents. Robin Parker would like to change that.
Parker, coach and organizer for the Philadelphia-area Dragon Boat Club, turned up at Tuesday night's municipal council meeting to discuss the possibility of bring the club to Norristown.
"It would be great for Norristown and our team," said Parker. "I think we could have a really good, positive effect on the community."
According to Parker, the club has been around for about 15 years. They were originally based in Philadelphia, near Boathouse Row, but a recent storm wiped out their seawall and forced all the area teams to relocate. Parker, who grew up in Norristown, wants to bring her club to Riverfront Park.
Parker admits that she was hesitant at first when Riverfront Park was mentioned as an option, but a site visit and some time with the neighbors changed her mind fast.
"I went in to the park and was pleasantly surprised," she said. "I got to meet the locals and we had a lot of fun."
Now, Parker says, she wants to introduce Norristown to dragon boating.
The club has two dragon boats, both about 45-feet long and has two competitive teams of different levels. Parker would want to invite locals to come learn about the sport and join in on some community projects and even have a dragon boat camp. She would love to get locals out on the water.
Before that can happen, Parker and the club need to sort out some paper work. The club needs a lease from the municipality to use the park, but an insurance quote of $5 million suggested by Norristown's broker was a bit out of the club's range. Guidelines created by US Rowing, the national governing body for the sport, call for $1-to-$2 million in insurance coverage. Parker noted that Philadelphia didn't require any liability insurance. Municipal Manager Dave Forrest agreed to take the US Rowing guidelines to the municipality's broker for consideration.
Once insurance is taken care of, the club would still need to find a home for the boats and a place for meetings. Parker feels that's something she can build at Riverfront Park.
"Dragon boating is the second biggest sport in the U.S.," said Parker. "There are competitions all over the world... I really would love to bring the teams to Norristown."
Learn more about the sport and about the Dragon Boat Club here.