- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 8, 2006

The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission yesterday voted to spend an additional $2.9 million to remove hazardous materials from the site of the Washington Nationals’ new ballpark in Southeast after the construction team discovered more contamination than expected.

The expenditure is on top of the $8 million already set aside for hazmat removal at the site and will be funded by a contingency built into the budget for the $611 million project.

Much of the removal work centers on large underground gas tanks left behind by previous landowners. The construction team, led by Clark Construction of Bethesda, also has encountered soil contamination and other hazardous waste left behind by a trash transfer facility, asphalt plant and a smattering of garages and automobile repair shops.

The sports commission is now looking to replenish the money taken from the contingency and could sell some development rights or get reimbursements from the federal government or other sources. The D.C. Council ruled in March the city cannot spend any more than the $611 million. Completion of the project is scheduled for March 2008.

So far, the construction team has demolished 24 buildings at the site and installed 140 of the 2,400 pilings needed to build the ballpark.

Meanwhile, the commission approved a change to its contract with the stadium construction team to allow for up to 16,000 square feet of retail space along the ballpark’s facade on First Street. To allow for the development, the commission asked for changes to the design of loading docks at the site. It is still unclear whether the space will be developed by the commission, the Nationals or not at all.

The sports commission gave no update, however, regarding ongoing discussions about parking at the stadium. The commission is required to build space for about 1,200 cars on the ballpark site. The commission has only about $20 million set aside for above-ground garages, but the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation prefers below-ground parking, which is more costly, because it would allow for street-level development.

Officials from both groups and the offices of the mayor and city administrator met yesterday to work out a compromise plan, the specifics of which is expected to be revealed next week.


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