Georgetowners of the Year: the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park

The transformation of Georgetown’s land along the Potomac River was completed four months ago. After years in the making, Georgetown Waterfront Park now stands as a stupendous achievement for this town and the District of Columbia. It had many advocates, including our beloved Sen. Charles Percy, who died four days after its official National Park Service dedication ceremony in September. Along with private contributions, the federal and District government stood behind it. Throughout all of this, the local non-profit, the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park, never took its eyes off the prize.

The $24-million, 9.5-acre park was a project of the National Park Service, the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park and the District of Columbia government. Designed by Wallace Roberts & Todd of Philadelphia, it is the largest park created in D.C. since Constitution Gardens was completed on the National Mall in 1976.

Once the land of old Georgetown’s wharves and then factories, the riverside had deteriorated into parking lots and empty land. In 1985, the District of Columbia transferred the waterfront land to the National Park Service. In the late 1990s, the Georgetown Waterfront Commission made the long push for completion, bringing together volunteers, residents, the rowing community, local leaders and the National Park Service. That group morphed into the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park.

The park features pathways, granite artwork that tells the story of Georgetown as a port, a labyrinth, and a bio-engineered river edge, along with a pergola, fountain and river stairs.

While we salute contributors, private and public, and the National Park Service, it is the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park—its members and main officers, Robert Von Eigen, Jonda McFarlane, Barbara Downs, Robin Gilbert, Ann Satterthwaite, Grace Bateman, Gretchen Ellsworth, Corinne Bronfman and Roger Stone — that earned the accolade: Georgetowners of the Year 2011. All of them have given us back our river and made “America’s best idea” even better.

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