- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Two hundred and one years after Congress mandated that the Potomac River waterfront shall be a park, some prominent Georgetown citizens are carrying out the directive.
A crowd gathered in a church three weeks ago to describe what they want in the park. A Philadelphia landscape architect listened and is scheduled to return with scenic designs next month.
The designs may not include all of the suggestions, such as a 135-foot bronze flagpole that would be lit at night, a fountain, or a monumental sculpture.
But there will surely be walking paths, greenery and easy access to the Potomac. Almost certain to be eliminated is a massive 560-car parking lot at the base of Wisconsin Avenue NW.
"We love living in Georgetown," said former Republican Sen. Charles Percy, who is chairman of the Georgetown Waterfront Commission that was formed four years ago to establish the park.
Parts of the waterfront are unsightly now, Mr. Percy said, in contrast to "across the river in Virginia, they put that land in beautiful parks."
Other commission members include Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams, D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, former Sens. Howard Baker and Bob Dole, Republicans, and Charles S. Robb, Democrat.
More than 50 people attended last month's meeting to tell landscape architect Ignazio Bunster-Ossa what they would like in the park.
Mr. Bunster-Ossa took notes for designing the 10-acre waterfront strip between Washington Harbour and Francis Scott Key Bridge.
"Everyone seems to agree there should be open space," said Draga Schlesinger, whose husband and daughter are architects.
"My husband would like to see a lot more activities there," she said of Frank Schlesinger, such as shops, restaurants and cafes.
Removing the huge asphalt parking lot at the base of Wisconsin is likely. Mr. Schlesinger said motorists probably would use a big parking garage to be built "kitty-cornered" across the street near an incinerator east of Wisconsin Avenue.
More boathouses may go up near Key Bridge, and access to the river will almost certainly be easier for boaters.
Georgetown University rowing coach Anthony Johnson emphasized that need, saying the Potomac "is a great river to row on."
"I am a rowing coach, and I am interested in having rowing facilities in that park," Mr. Johnson said.
Hiking and biking paths with open views of the river can easily be located around the boathouses and docking sites, Mr. Johnson said.
Soon after he became commission chairman, Mr. Percy persuaded Congress to give $1 million to the park project. The commission has raised about $3 million more. He estimated the total cost to be between $8 million and $10 million.
Although Congress ordered the park in 180l, it belonged to the District of Columbia, not the National Park Service. About 30 years ago, it was agreed that the 10 acres would be ceded to the Park Service after the Whitehurst Freeway, which is elevate above K Street, was constructed.
There are those, like Joe R. Passoneau, who now want the Whitehurst removed. He said it is not a freeway and its elevations are ineffective, and unsightly.
"I have been trying for at least 20 years to take down the Whitehurst," said Mr. Passoneau, saying the roadway should be replaced with a tree-lined, graded avenue along the riverside park.
"The park has just been a concept until now," said Ray Kukulski, chairman of Citizens Association of Georgetown.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide