- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Victims of Communism Foundation is trying to find a home for its memorial, but a Northeast neighborhood has rejected a proposed site for the 10-foot statue.

“Neighbors immediately close to [the site] are very angry, and then we have the other side, with people who really want a statue,” said Karen Wirt, Advisory Neighborhood Commission representative for the region east of Union Station and slightly past Stanton Park. “I think we tried to be fair by saying we support the statue, but not the site.”

The foundation’s preferred site for the memorial is a 6,900-square-foot tract behind the Supreme Court, bordered by Maryland Avenue, Constitution Avenue and Third Street in Northeast.

Eight ANC commissioners unanimously rejected the site Wednesday night, saying it would snarl traffic and reduce green space on Capitol Hill.

The nonprofit group wants to erect a statue of the “Goddess of Democracy,” a replica of a sculpture raised in Tiananmen Square by Chinese students in 1989. It would be dedicated to the more than 100 million who have died under communist regimes worldwide.

Foundation Chairman Lee Edwards said the project will cost about $500,000, and his group has raised $300,000. He said he hopes to have the memorial built by summer 2006.

The National Capital Memorial Commission approved the Northeast site in July, but the Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission have yet to approve.

The neighborhood’s rejection of the site may affect its approval by the two commissions.

“We’ll measure these objections and see how seriously we take them into account,” Mr. Edwards said. “[The commission is] advisory, but we want to take the community into account.”

During the meeting, officials said the monument would not bring busloads of people to the area or hamper traffic.

“You have the opportunity here to have a lovely memorial that will be a symbolic memorial, a walk-by memorial,” Mary Kay Lanzillota, the project’s lead architect, told the commission and about 50 residents.

The meeting became heated when Bill Crews, ANC representative for 6C07, posed several fiery questions to memorial officials, but said he did not need any answers.

“Why is this location so important?” Mr. Crews said. “What about the plaza next to the Ronald Reagan building? Ronald Reagan single-handedly destroyed communism.”

Mr. Edwards said the foundation may consider alternative sites for the memorial. But a special resolution from Congress is required to build a monument on the National Mall, so locations there will not be considered.

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