Happy July 4th!

Dear Coalition Friends:

Happy July 4th!

The National Mall is receiving plenty of media attention this July 4th–with stories about the Mall’s decrepit condition; the National Park Service’s proposals to raise money through the Trust for the National Mall to repair and improve the grass, pools, restrooms; and the National Coalition to Save Our Mall’s long-range ideas for Mall expansion, an independent commission, and DC involvement.   Now we hope to keep the story alive and action moving forward once the July 4th spotlight moves on.

For stories about the Mall, including interviews with Coalition Chair Judy Scott Feldman, watch CNN today with Jeanne Meserve, WDCW Channel 50 “The Inner Loop” on Sunday, and read the July 4th Dallas Morning News editorial, below.

Visit our website to read about earlier coverage–the editorial and cartoon in The Washington Post and the story on last Sunday’s CBS News Sunday Morning program–http://www.savethemall.org. 

JULY 6  This Sunday, July 6 watch WDCW’s  (Channel 50 ) “The Inner Loop:   Washington’s Mall,” at 10:30 a.m.  It’s a program reported by students at the George Washington University, and includes stories on the National Mall’s problems, its future plans, and why people love this wonderful property….love it to exhaustion!

Interviews in the show are with Judy Scott Feldman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall and Bill Line of the National Park Service.


The Washington Mall deserves a better look

Friday, July 4, 2008

Families from Texas to the Dakotas and Maine to California have poured onto the National Mall in Washington this week, hoping to take in the sights, sounds and splendor of a Fourth of July in the nation’s capital. Weather permitting, they’ll tour the National Air and Space Museum, stroll alongside the monuments and sit on the Capitol lawn for a glorious fireworks display.

Or so the tradition has been.

We’re sad to report that celebrations on the Mall risk losing their appeal. The buildings, monuments and landscaping that stretch from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial suffer from a lack of routine upkeep and from too many facilities and events being shoehorned into what many of us consider “America’s front yard.”

We’ve raised the overcrowding problem in previous editorials and in a Viewpoints interview with the Mall’s leading reformer, Judy Scott Feldman, a former University of Dallas professor.

Today, we’re here to advocate for doing the basics better.

The National Park Service contends that the Mall needs $350 million to upgrade its grounds and facilities. Grass is worn down. Bathrooms don’t work. Reflecting pools don’t reflect.

Is rust, rot and decay really what we want to showcase to visitors from across our own country and nations the world over?

Fortunately, an effort is under way to change things. Washington businessman Chip Akridge is breathing new life into the Trust for the National Mall. He wants the nonprofit to raise money to renovate the national gathering spot.

The private sector certainly should play a role, but Capitol Hill shouldn’t interpret that as a free pass. President Bush has proposed $100 million a year for a decade for repairs to national parks, including the Mall. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., has proposed a separate $100 million just to maintain the Mall.

Unfortunately, legislators have said the right things and then backed away from such proposals in the past. We hope they put a greater priority this time on renovating the Mall, which, after all, belongs to all of us. (Just last week, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival highlighted Texas and its culture. Who wouldn’t benefit from that?)

Surely, Congress can find a way to keep the Mall a unique gathering place for all Americans.