WASHINGTON (KMOX) – Senator Roy Blunt, R-MO, is calling on the new Secretary of the Interior to visit the Gateway Arch and take an interest in the plan to renovate it.
Blunt spoke with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Tuesday at an Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies hearing. Missouri’s junior senator called on Jewell to appoint someone within her department to speak with Mayor Francis Slay and work with the City of St. Louis on the project.
“One big request from Mayor Slay and others in St. Louis is if you could put someone in charge of this, one person that really tries to be sure that all of this stays on focus, on time,” he said.
That person, according to Jewell, is St. Louis native and National Park Service deputy director Peggy O’Dell. O’Dell began work at the Arch in 1974 and was the superintendent there from 2004 to 2007.
Blunt reminded Jewell of the support her predecessor Ken Salazar had proclaimed for the Arch renovation.
“His comment the last time he was there was he would move heaven and earth to get this done by October 28, 2015 and it appears it might be easier to move heaven and earth than the Department [of the Interior],” Blunt quipped.
“I was briefed on it,” Jewell responded. “I can’t promise the heaven and earth thing, that may be beyond my pay grade.”
Another topic of discussion between the two was the use of public-private partnerships in the renovation.
“If the Park Service contends ‘we can’t let this happen unless it’s something we totally control,’ that’s not really a private-public partnership. It’s something but it’s not a private-public partnership,” Blunt said. Jewell, a former businesswoman and banking executive, said she understood the importance of private funds.