The CJ founders of a newly created entity that aims to assume control of Minnie’s Island, received near universal support from the roughly 50 people who listened to their plans at the March 24 CJCA Zoom meeting. Minnie’s Island, located in the Potomac River about 100 yards off-shore from Lockhouse 8 on the C&O Canal, is roughly eight acres of wild habitat with a dilapidated wooden lodge and large deck at one end.
Led by Pascal Pittman of 80th Place, the Minnie’s Island Community Conservancy (MICC) is being formed to receive ownership of the island from the Potomac Conservancy. The other founding members of MICC are CJ residents Burr Gray, Jack Mandel, and Mac Thornton.
A day after the meeting MICC became a registered corporation, allowing it to begin working on its 501(c)(3) status. The organization “is dedicated to the preservation of the ecological, architectural, scientific, and humanist legacy of Minnie’s Island,” according to its mission statement. To achieve its aims, MICC is counting on community awareness, volunteerism, and donations to support the refurbishment of the cabin, the removal of non-invasive species from the island, and on-going maintenance, Pascal told meeting participants.
For the structure, he envisions bringing to working order the composting toilet, a woodburning stove, and a well. The addition of solar panels would allow for electricity. It will take a couple of years, he noted. But then the island would be ready to host six to eight people at a time for recreation, educational programs, conservation, and scientific research.
MICC also is in discussions with the National Park Service to take on maintenance responsibility for Lockhouse 8. Pascal explained that its role would be two-fold: the lockhouse would serve as a staging area for access to Minnie’s, primarily by enabling the canoes and kayaks needed to reach the island to be stored in its basement. It would also allow the group to schedule more educational programs as they would be able to use the lockhouse as meeting space if inclement weather kept the group from transporting people to the island.
Pascal said they are hoping to raise funds initially by having folks donate $250 a year and volunteer time working on island projects. But he stressed that Minnie’s would not be “a Sycamore Island private club” and that its fundraising is not part of a “pay to play” plan. He assured meeting attendees that the public would have access to the island “in a controlled manner.”
To find out more about MICC, email Pascal Pittman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Susan Shipp, CJCA President