National Park Service Announces Re-start of the Public consultation Process for its National Mall Plan

Dear Coalition Friends:

The National Park Service has announced the re-start of the public consultation process for its National Mall Plan after a 10-month hiatus.

See the announcement of meetings dates and times below, starting on March 11th.  Sessions are divided into “Section 106” meetings to discuss historic preservation issues and “Public Meetings” to discuss other non-preservation topics.

You can read Newsletter 4, which outlines NPS’s new “Preliminary Preferred Alternative” for what changes and improvements it proposes for areas of the Mall under its jurisdiction.

We are delighted to see that the Park Service defines its vision for the Mall as “America’s civic stage,” a concept our Coalition developed some years ago.  The Preferred Alternative’s general ideas for refurbishing the Mall’s open space under NPS jurisdiction look promising but as yet provides few details.  We encourage all interested groups and individuals to participate in the upcoming meetings.

Proposed improvements to the Mall focus primarily on visitor services.  However, they also include significant redesign and development of specific areas of the open space — new ideas that ought to be thoroughly discussed at this early stage.

  1. New and restored visitor amenities would include signs, drinking fountains, restrooms, seating; replacing gravel walkways with new paving; taking care of deferred maintenance on resources and amenities;
  2. Of particular note are proposals to redesign certain areas of the Mall and add sometimes substantial new structures:
    • Union Square at the foot of the Capitol between 1st and 3rd streets, where the reflecting pool would be removed and laid out as a civic square with new concession stands;
    • The 12th Street axis of the Mall would be redesigned to accommodate tents, stages, and so on for special events;
    • A new paved welcome plaza and facilities at the Smithsonian Metro entrance;
    • Replacement of the Sylvan Theater at the Washington Monument by a new structure for food service, retail, information, exhibits, restroom, operations space, ranger offices.
  3. Topics that are not mentioned or discussed in any depth include development of a transportation and circulation system or urgent infrastructure repairs such as the sinking seawalls at the Tidal Basin.
  4. Pennsylvania Avenue, which had previously been included in the planning scope, has been put aside for now and will be part of a separate planning document.

Background:  For those of you needing background into this planning process, which began in November 2006, go here to read Newsletter 3 (Fall/Winter 2007), Newsletter 2 (Summer 2007), and Newsletter 1 (Fall 2006).   NPS has posted its earlier 1973 “Washington Mall. Circulation Systems” plan, the last plan developed for the Mall.    At this link also is documentation of plans for the White House, which NPS does not consider to be part of the National Mall.

*****Here below verbatim is the National Park Service announcement*****

NPS knows that you are intensely interested in progress on the National Mall Plan, and that when you don’t hear from us you may be concerned that you are not included in the process. The facts are that it has taken this long to complete internal briefings and to schedule meetings — and then just a few minor things like the 2009 Presidential Inaugural, Lincoln Bicentennial and Recovery Act have demanded just a little bit of park staff time.

NPS now has a “Preliminary Preferred Alternative” for the National Mall. Achieving this milestone is what NPS said would restart the Section 106 meetings, so we are writing to inform you about  meeting dates. Newsletter 4 (Preliminary Preferred Alternative)  has been prepared and an additional time for public comment will be provided – until April 20, 2009. The newsletter is posted on the website. Print copies will be available at the following meetings and will be mailed out in March when they come back from the printer. This step gives the public another opportunity to participate before a Draft National Mall Plan / EIS is published this summer.

We informed you that NPS was making an informational presentation to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts on February 19.  We will also be making an informational presentation to the National Capital Planning Commission on April 2, 2009.

SECTION 106 MEETINGS:  All meetings will be held at the NPS National Capital Region  (NCR) Offce in training room B.  THIS IS A CHANGE FROM WHERE WE HAVE MET IN THE PAST.  The regional office is located at 1100 Ohio Drive SW in East Potomac Park, south of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and I-395.  Parking is available.   Times for meetings will be from 1-4pm on the following dates:

Tuesday March 17 – An overview of the preliminary preferred alternative.  The DC State Historic Preservation Office and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation will provide an overview of the role of consulting parties.  The parties will begin to identify historic preservation concerns and areas they would like to discuss in more detail.

Friday March 20 – The consulting parties will continue to identify historic preservation concerns.

Monday March 30 – The consulting parties will continue to identify historic preservation concerns.

PUBLIC MEETINGS will be held earlier in the month at the Old Post Office Building on 12th and Pennsylvania.  This is the location where we have held all previous public and section 106 meetings.  If you have issues you would like to discuss which do not relate to identifying  historic preservation concerns NPS suggests you bring them up at the following meetings or provide public comment to the plan online.

Wednesday March 11 at the Old Post Office Room M07 – from 5-7pm

Saturday March 14 at the Old Post Office – Room M07 – 12-2pm

NPS looks forward to meeting with you soon.

Susan Spain, Project Executive
The National Mall Plan
National Mall & Memorial Parks
900 Ohio Drive, S.W.
Washington, DC  20024-2000
(202) 245-4692 (0ffice)
(202) 426-9309 FAX


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