Will the Smithsonian South Mall Plan Encourage More Building on the Mall?

By Judy Scott Feldman, Chair of the National Mall Coalition

On March 3rd, on behalf of the National Mall Coalition, I presented testimony to the National Capital Planning Commission on the Smithsonian’s South Mall Campus plan in support of  the Smithsonian’s more modest planning goals.

But I asked NCPC to direct the Smithsonian to coordinate with other Mall steward agencies on comprehensive flooding and clean energy solutions, instead of their current approach of planning flood cisterns and new power plans for individual museums. The current piecemeal approach to problem-solving means, I said, that “in coming years this Commission can expect to be asked to approve other piecemeal solutions for clean energy and flooding problems – by GSA, National Gallery of Art, USDA, and other Mall stewards – with all the associated threats to the integrity of the Mall.”

Regrettably, the Commissioners did not engage in any serious discussion of the points I made, essentially dismissing what I presented while claiming there is a Mall-wide collaboration underway by the relevant agencies and institutions.  That’s news to those of us who have been following agency plans now for over 20 years.

The National Mall Coalition will continue to urge DC and Federal agencies to put aside agency-by-agency project planning and instead recognize the need for comprehensive planning for the entire Mall. In the face of continuing piecemeal solutions, the Coalition reiterates its call on Congress to create a new McMillan-type commission to update the 1902 McMillan Plan for the 21st century.

Read my testimony — and the solution that requires Congressional action.

Watch the full meeting below (my testimony starts at 40:51).


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