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Hill Talk: Mall Makeover

The Trust for the National Mall kicked off the summer season with a bang over the past week. The trust, which serves as the National Park Service’s official partner for raising funds for improving and maintaining the Mall, held a luncheon on Thursday and then was set to host the Ball on the Mall on Friday night.

Mayor Adrian Fenty and his wife, Michelle, served as co-chairs for the second annual luncheon, which featured Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Peggy O’Dell from the National Park Service and Chip Akridge, who serves as chairman of the Trust for the National Mall. Among the attendees were Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Reps. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Connie Mack IV (R-Fla.).

This year’s lunch raised more than $1 million through ticket sales and sponsorships. In 2008, the lunch raised $635,000.

The Ball on the Mall, sponsored by the trust’s young benefactors group, the L’Enfant Society, was expected to raise $150,000. The L’Enfant Society was established at the beginning of 2009 and hopes to make the ball an annual event.

In the past year, the trust gave $1.1 million to the NPS’ Centennial Challenge Initiative, and that was matched with federal dollars. That funding was used to update signs on the Mall, which had not been updated since before the unveiling of the National World War II Memorial in 2004.

As Akridge explained at the luncheon, the group’s other priorities include efforts to improve security and build up the Tidal Basin at the Jefferson Memorial, to add sprinkler systems and replace the soil and grass on the great lawn and to provide new sources of water for the waterways.

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