- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2002

The National Park Service yesterday released a proposal to permanently improve security at the Washington Monument and remove the unsightly barriers presently surrounding the national icon.
"Sadly we live in a time where we have incidents like September 11, and the Washington Monument has been identified as a potential terrorist target," said National Park Service spokesman Bill Line.
"The Park Service would be criticized if we did not take adequate and necessary steps to protect the monument," he said.
Officials with the Park Service, which revealed three possible options for improving security, voiced support for a plan to construct a series of elevated terraces around the monument.
The terraces, designed to block access by vehicles, would be open to pedestrian traffic and would replace the barriers that have been in place for several years.
More importantly, officials said, the plan calls for the creation of several below-grade access ways leading to the monument and the construction of an underground security-screening facility.
"The terraces would complement the underground option in that the terrace levels would complement the landscaping," Mr. Line said. "The goal is to ensure visitor security while allowing visitors full access to the monument."
He said the existing above-ground visitor-screening facility, directly adjacent to the eastern side of the monument, and the existing ticket-distribution kiosk on the west side of 15th Street at Madison Drive NW would be removed.
"We believe these are reasonable, adequate and ordinary steps toward protecting the monument to ensure that the average taxpayer who visits the monument is protected," he said.
A second proposal, however, leaves out the plan for an underground screening facility and relies heavily on constructing a ring of 1,600 security bollards waist-high steel stumps to be rooted in the ground in a one-and-a-quarter-mile circle around the monument. The bollards would replace the existing barriers.
Under the second proposal, a new security-screening facility would be built on the sloping, south side of the monument grounds near the present site of the Sylvan Theater.
Both proposals call for replacing the existing above-ground visitor queuing area around the perimeter of the monument plaza the area directly surrounding the structure.
A third proposal would maintain facilities in their current state.
The Park Service has prepared an environmental assessment package to analyze each of the proposals, which will be open for public comment until May 23 and can be viewed at the Web site (www.nps.gov/wamo).
The National Capital Planning Commission and the D.C. Fine Arts Commission will then hold public hearings on the proposals as part of a review process.
A final decision could be months or even years away.
Mr. Line said cost estimates for the permanent security improvements have not yet been made.

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