Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Federal officials yesterday announced a plan to protect and preserve the Mall from any more construction and create areas within the District where memorials and museums could be built.

The plan addresses underused federal land in the Northwest Rectangle, Federal Triangle, Southwest Federal Center, Banneker Overlook, the RFK Stadium site, South Capitol Street, Poplar Point and East Potomac Park.

“Washington is a vibrant city, full of life that extends well beyond the Mall,” said John V. Cogbill III, chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission, which with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts announced the National Capital Framework Plan.

“An important aspect of the framework plan will be to focus on unused or underutilized federal lands and to make the most of the opportunities that we have available,” said Earl A. Powell III, chairman of the fine-arts panel.

A public meeting to kick off the initiative is planned for next month.

Officials presented the plan at a press conference at the U.S. Navy Memorial, one of the city’s new monuments that was built about one block from the Mall.

“[The Navy Memorial is] a great example of a beautiful and meaningful memorial that can be built within the city without creating another commemorative site on the National Mall,” Mr. Powell said.

In 2003, Congress adopted an amendment to the Commemorative Works Act. The 1986 act declared the Mall a no-build “reserve” zone, as proposed two years earlier by the National Capital Planning Commission.

“I co-authored the provision to declare the Mall a no-build zone because I believe the National Mall is a completed work of civic art,” said U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas, Wyoming Republican and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources national parks subcommittee. “When the framework plan is completed, it will encourage future decision-makers to look to newly identified locations throughout the city for commemoration and celebration.”

Mr. Cogbill said the plan builds on the foundation laid by Pierre L’Enfant, who began designing the nation’s capital in 1791.

“He saw a majestic city with sweeping vistas, grand circles and broad boulevards linking important federal buildings,” Mr. Cogbill said.

Officials said public funds are limited and the projects will take years to develop. They said the projects would be prioritized.

A study to be developed by late this year will address ways to improve streetscapes, public spaces, recreation areas, and museum and memorial sites.

The National Park Service, the Architect of the Capitol and the General Services Administration also are involved in the project.

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