Update of Washington Monument/WWII Memorial/MLK Plaque

Dear National Coalition to Save Our Mall Friends:

Today’s update is a veritable newsletter to fill you in on the past month:

1. Save the Date — October 14, 10 a.m. – 12 noon: On Columbus Day (a federal holiday) the National Coalition to Save Our Mall will sponsor — on the Mall — a Celebration of the National Mall and the Centenary of the McMillan Plan of 1901-1902.

This educational event will include a brief Guided Tour of the Mall’s history, a presentation of our first annual “State of the National Mall Report”, and the kick-off of plans for a “National Mall Tours the Country” project.

We’ve asked the National Park Service for a permit for the Washington Monument Grounds. In coming weeks we’ll be mailing out invitations to our members and friends, to members of Congress and federal agencies with oversight for the Mall, and to members of the press and media.

We’ll keep you informed as plans develop.

2. Washington Monument: The National Park Service’s (NPS) Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Washington Monument tunnels and walls project is now posted on the NPS website. The 18-page FONSI is the NPS’s cursory, inadequate, and even irresponsible reply to the serious questions and concerns raised by us, the National Trust, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Committee of 100 on the Federal City, and other groups and individuals. (The criticisms by these groups of the NPS’s Environmental Assessment are also posted on our website, under “Washington Monument”). The FONSI is little more than a recap of the NPS’s “finding of no adverse effect” from last January, a conclusion the NPS reached BEFORE any engineering or historic preservation reports had been prepared. As of now, the engineering and preservation reports still are not completed and provided to the NCPC and the public.

Since the day the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) cancelled its August 15th special meeting to consider the National Park Service’s “preliminary design plans”, we have heard nothing about rescheduling. NCPC told NPS to complete its engineering and historic preservation reports BEFORE attempting to schedule another NCPC hearing on the project.

3. UPDATES Archive: If you’ve lost track of recent happenings, you can go to our new Updates archive on the website, under “Get Our Newsletter” http://www.savethemall.org/newsltr/

4. WWII Memorial: We have been told that on the morning of September 18th, prior to the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) meeting at 10 a.m., there will be an on-site mock-up of a portion of the WWII Memorial, now under construction. Apparently the mock-up will be of the “Wall of Remembrance” (the wall of 4,000 gold stars) at the east end of the Lincoln Memorial’s Reflecting Pool. The CFA is concerned that this 9-foot high wall will obstruct Mall vistas. We’ll keep you informed as we learn more.

At the August CFA meeting, sculptor Ray Kaskey presented his designs for sculptural reliefs intended to line the entrance ramp down into the Memorial plaza — scenes of Americans preparing for war. Straight faced, Kaskey said he’s “doing research on WWII in the National Archives” to learn more about his subject. (Maybe some of our members could educate him.) John Parsons of the NPS told the commissioners that the memorial sponsor, the American Battle Monuments Commission, and the NPS have scrapped plans for the long-awaited and much discussed “central sculptural element.” (In 1999, the central element of the Memorial design was a coffin, since removed.) Hmmm…

5. MLK Plaque at Lincoln Memorial: At its September 5th meeting, the NCPC agreed with Congresswoman Anne Northup — sponsor of legislation authorizing a marker or small plaque marking the exact spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave the “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 — and rejected an alternative site proposed by the National Park Service. The National Coalition’s Charles Cassell — who participated in the 1963 March on Washington — testified in support of Cong. Northup’s concept of a plaque marking the actual historic site. Here’s the NCPC’s decision:

“Lincoln Memorial – The Commission disapproved the site recommended by the National Park Service for locating a plaque to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. The site recommended by the Park Service is located in the immediate vicinity of an existing granite plaque that recognizes the statehood of Alaska and Hawaii. The Commission recommended, instead, that the Park Service re-evaluate and consider locating the plaque for Dr. King on the actual spot from which he delivered his speech.”

That’s all for now. Please visit our newly updated and revised website at: http://www.savethemall.org

Best regards,

Judy Feldman


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