Letter to the Washington Times, “A growing, lively Mall”

Dear Coalition Friends:

As the dialogue begins about the Mall’s future, we will make every attempt to clarify our ideas for 1. Enhancing the existing Mall with visitor amenities, activities, and transportation, and 2. Expanding the Mall with new public open space, museum and memorial sites, and recreational and cultural activities, especially along the Potomac waterfront. Our letter in response to a column that appeared in the Sports Section of the Washington Times on last Sunday was published in today’s Washington Times.


December 16, 2005

A growing, lively Mall

In “East Potomac Park doesn’t need to feel like Mall” (Weekend Athlete, Sports, Sunday), Steve Nearman should not have concluded that if the Mall is expanded to East Potomac Park, “you can forget about those awesome training sessions and family outings” around the park without contacting us or – better yet – attending the December 7 presentation at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. If anything, the ideas proposed by designers on December 7 would enhance public use for runners, golfers (including putt-putt), skateboarders and boaters, as Congress originally intended.

The Corcoran session began with historical facts, including: Congress designated those 300-plus acres for recreation and enjoyment in the late 19th century; the Army Corps of Engineers planned recreational complexes along the Washington Channel shoreline and at Hains Point, but the plans were never carried out; also never realized were bridges connecting the long island to the Southwest waterfront to provide convenient access for local residents, and a canal cut through the island for direct boat connection from Washington Channel to the Potomac River.

As for museum or memorial sites, the column correctly notes that the National Capital Planning Commission’s Memorials and Museums Master Plan “does include several sites in East Potomac Park.” In fact, we agree that anything built there should “enhance, not overwhelm, the predominantly waterfront open space and recreational character.” We encourage The Times’ readers to write us and call us with their ideas.

The Mall’s future could be one of the most positive, optimistic and visionary projects for the nation in the 21st century. It was a century ago when the Senate Park Commission, or McMillan Commission, expanded and re-envisioned this great symbol of American democracy.

National Mall Third Century Initiative

National Coalition to Save Our Mall


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