The Perpetually Delayed Waterfront Park Turns to Community for More Money



-After ongoing delays and skyrocketing leaps over the original budget by over $2.2 million, Waterfront Park is still about where it has been for the past six months: over budget and delayed. Delays were largely a result of previously undetected foundation debris associated with the former Capital Traction Company Powerhouse that was located at the spot of the park. The building was demolished in 1968.

Additional costs were then incurred to redesign the underground pumps for the fountain, the centerpiece of the plaza. Though Councilmember Jack Evans, with support from Mayor Fenty, was able to obtain $950,000, which was matched by money from the National Park Service’s Centennial Initiative Fund, phase two of the construction was still asking for an additional $150,000 from private
sources — again to be matched by the Park Service, bringing the total to $300,000 — to complete the park.

On October 7, the Georgetown BID presented Bob vom Eigen from the Friends of the Waterfront Park with a $50,000 check to assist in the completion of phase two of construction. The donation again will be matched by the National Park Service and will apparently, along with Pepco’s recent $50,000 donation, finalize the necessary fundraising for completion of phase two of the Park by June 2011.

But the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park continue to turn to the local community to come up with the rest of the funds, with the promise that every dollar donated will be matched by the National
Park Service.

According to Councilman Jack Evans, our local government is facing a shortfall of $100 million in declining revenue and $75 million in various spending pressures. Is this troubled park currently worth the efforts and resources of an ailing economy? We present no argument against the importance of public spaces, and the positive effects of community parks and recreation areas, but the plans for this park far exceed necessary expenditures for community development.

Plans for phase two of the Park, which stretches from Wisconsin Avenue to 31st Street, include a low arcing fountain lined with benches and steps laddering down to the river. A wide walkway will be continued along the river with an area with benches and a pergola for river viewing. An interactive
fountain will be added, and an arbor will be constructed above the new benches. Below the arbor, river stairs will descend to the water, forming an amphitheater where people can view activities in the park and watch the finish line of the boat races. For more information about Georgetown Waterfront Park construction, visit Keep your fingers crossed.


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