- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Three cheers to The Washington Times for running John Akridge III’s op-ed calling attention to the staggering embarrassment that the Mall has become (“Our embarrassing National Mall,” Commentary, Monday).

Overrun with vagrants, dirt, trash, concrete jersey walls, chain-link barriers, trenching, idling buses, endless road construction and white vans hawking cheap souvenirs, the Mall is a distressing shambles, a chaotic jumble of ugliness and neglect. Who the devil is in charge of this shameful mess? Who can we fire for allowing it to happen?

President John F. Kennedy had a vision for Pennsylvania Avenue (like it or not) that was realized long after his tragic death, largely because of the tenacity of the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, New York Democrat. Today, the pitiful condition of the Mall confirms that the National Park Service is not up to the job of keeping the space beautiful. It positively begs for benefactors - public or private - with vision, tenacity and leadership skills. Does anyone know where those people are?

RICHARD J. DOUGLAS

College Park, Md.