Waterfront park construction receives $50,000 donation

The uncompleted waterfront park along the Potomac River in Georgetown recently received a $50,000 donation from the park’s energy provider that will go toward finishing the park, the president of a group supporting the park said Tuesday.

Construction for the Georgetown Waterfront Park stalled in 2009 after the park’s contractors ran into costly obstacles, according to Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park President Bob vom Eigen.

Vom Eigen said original estimates for the construction were about $9 million, however issues with bringing enough energy to power the park, as well as unexpected rubble-removal costs brought the total bill to about $12 million, leaving the park’s planners with a nearly $3 million shortfall.

Those extra costs were a result of the discovery of an underground concrete slab that belonged to a retired power plant from the 1960s, and the park’s power provider Pepco not disclosing an inability to increase the power load to the park without installing a new and costly higher-voltage transformer.

Vom Eigen said the park’s fountain was then redesigned at a cost of $300,000 because it was a less expensive alternative than wiring in more power from nearby streets.

Vom Eigen said the shortfall was brought to the attention of D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who submitted an inquiry which resulted in an allocation of $950,000 from the District budget for the park. Vom Eigen also said the National Park Service put aside $1 million to help balance the budget.

The Friends group must now raise $150,000, which is to be matched by federal funds, to complete the last phase of construction. The $50,000 donation from Pepco will go toward the community’s fundraising.

The new fundraising effort, which is soliciting donations from those who have already supported the park, has started to bring the Friends organization closer to raising the money needed to finish the park.

“Pepco made a generous donation,” vom Eigen said. He added that he was thankful it took “responsibility toward fixing the problem.”

Vom Eigen said his group was expecting to receive the donation very soon. Pepco did not return requests for comment.

If the remaining funding is raised soon, phase two of the park development may be complete by June 2011, Vom Eigen said.

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