National Park Service: Revised and New Security Plans for Mall Monuments

Suddenly after a lull, the National Park Service has come to life with revised and new security plans for the major monuments on the National Mall. All of these proposals need serious scrutiny. Please let Congress and the Park Service know how you feel about the following:

1. WASHINGTON MONUMENT Tunnels and Walls:

The National Park Service (NPS) has been curiously silent on this project ever since September 19, 2002, when the Commission of Fine Arts tabled the design for tunnels and walls. At that point the required public consultation process ground to a halt.

In a significant move, last week the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) wrote to Terry Carlstrom, Regional Director of the National Park Service. It noted the absence of activity regarding the Monument and requested the documents and data that the NPS has promised since February but still has not made public. While the Advisory Council is just that — only advisory — these comments are important because they show official concern about the lack of meaningful progress in the public consultation over the controversial design. It affirms what we’ve been saying for some months now.

A few days ago we heard that the NPS is now planning to take its latest “revised design” before the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) on January 9, 2003. We’re told that the design is basically the same as before. So much for meaningful public consultation. The NPS has NEVER YET taken seriously alternatives to the awful idea of funneling visitors to the Monument through a long narrow tunnel. The NCPC posts its agenda three weeks or so before its meetings at: http://www.ncpc.gov We’ll update you again when we know more.

2. JEFFERSON MEMORIAL AND LINCOLN MEMORIAL Security Barriers:

The deadline for public comment on the Environmental Assessments (EA) for the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials is fast approaching — on December 4th. If you haven’t reviewed the EAs, you can do so at: www.nps.gov/linc and www.nps.gov/jefm Send your comments to Arnold Goldstein, Superintendent, National Capital Parks — Central, 900 Ohio Dr. SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2000, or via e-mail at [email protected] And please send a copy to us so we can post it on our website.

NOTE: The Jefferson design calls for REMOVING the public parking lot behind the Memorial. This is, in our opinion, a terrible idea since it is very difficult to get to the Jefferson except by car and would discourage visitors, especially those who like to take out-of-town tourists for a quick trip, often at night. The NPS wants people to use its Tourmobile instead.

The NPS’s original design for security at Jefferson was better — it was based in the design guidelines provided by the National Capital Planning Commission in its Urban Design and Security Plan. While the current plan calls for bollards and walls lining the walkways and roads adjacent to the Monument, the original more historically sensitive design included a plinth (30″ high) wall surrounding the existing plinth walls of the John Russell Pope design. But John Parsons of the NPS now claims that security experts say the barriers must be at least 200 feet from the Memorial to protect it from car bombs — causing him to rule out the plinth wall solution.

QUESTION: Is 200 feet a standard for all memorials? If so, won’t that require the closing of 17th Street — a major north-south commuter road in D.C. — once the World War II Memorial, located at 17th Street on the Mall, is completed?

We’ll post our formal EA comments and those by local citizens groups as they become available.

3. THE PUBLIC be damned again:

In yet another brazen attempt to circumvent the public process, the NPS tried to get approval of its Jefferson Memorial design before the end of the public comment period on the EA. Last Thursday, November 21, John Parsons of the NPS and designer Jeff Lee asked the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) to give FINAL APPROVAL to the plan. Not conceptual approval, or preliminary approval, mind you. But we are happy to report that the CFA tabled the design after making sharply critical comments and raising numerous questions.

Once again, as with the Washington Monument tunnel scheme, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (http://www.achp.gov) stepped in against the NPS’s ill-advised plans. The evening of the aborted attempt, the Advisory Council wrote to the NPS stating that it is joining the Section 106 public consultation process. The process requires, as with the Washington Monument consultation, the NPS to CONSULT with the public and seriously consider alternative designs. The National Coalition and other groups must now request “consulting status” on the Jefferson and Lincoln projects.

Whew! We’ll provide another update when our formal comments on the Jefferson and Lincoln projects are completed.

The Coalition wishes everyone a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving,

 

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