Once again, businessman and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein has come through for the National Park Service. This time, he's pledged funding needed to modernize the Washington Monument's elevator-- but the monument will remain closed until 2019 while repairs and improvements are underway.
Rubenstein's donation of between $2-3 million, announced Friday, will correct those ongoing elevator issues, which have shuttered the monument since August 17.
"The monument has become a symbol of our country, and reminds everyone of the towering strengths of our first president," Rubenstein said. "I am honored to help make this symbol safely accessible again to all Americans as soon as practicable."
His gift to the National Park Foundation's Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks will allow the National Park Service to replace the computer system that controls the elevator, and to add a remote diagnostic system, which will permit technicians to more quickly determine the cause of problems when they occur. It will also provide funds to refurbish the existing elevator machine and gear; replace existing hardware, including door operators, hoist-way ropes, compensation cables, rollers, electrical conductors, breakers and power supplies, and the elevator cab ventilation system; install audio/visual screens in the elevator cab; and install code compliant landings every 30 feet in the elevator shaft.
"The Washington Monument is one of our Nation's most iconic structures. It is one of many monuments in Washington, D.C. that is important in telling the story of America's rich and diverse history," said Jonathan B. Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service. "Mr. Rubenstein's continued support for the Washington Monument will ensure generations of visitors can safely enjoy this historically significant monument for years to come."
Rubenstein's "patriotic philanthropy" benefitting the National Park Service makes him a leader in the incredible legacy of private support for national parks:
January 2012 - $7.5 million to restore the Washington Monument after the earthquake
July 2014 - $12.35 million to restore Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial
September 2014 - $5 million endowment for the White House Visitor Center
April 2015 - $5.37 million to improve the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
February 2016 - $18.5 million to restore the Lincoln Memorial
April 2016 - $1 million to fund critical repairs to Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
The National Park Service has also requested funding in its FY 2017 President's Budget Request to construct a permanent screening facility for the Washington Monument.