The $46-million, 1,000-foot garden wall memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, proposed to be built here along the western edge of the Tidal Basin, will have its only public hearing Nov. 1.
The meandering, 14-foot-high wall, with waterfalls, pools and fountains along much of its length, is the third proposal for a major monument to FDR in Washington since Congress established a memorial commission in 1955. The plan, which includes a theater, interpretive center and cafe to be built beside the wall, is the first to be near approval and the first to have a public hearing.
The two previous proposals, one dubbed "instant stonehenge" and the other "stone darts," were rejected by federal planning agencies because they were throught to detract from the nearby memorials to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. A rose garden in honor of Roosevelt also was proposed, but like the small, $15,000 FDR memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue - a desksize block of marble - it was decided that a rose garden was not substantial enough to memorialize the 32nd President.
The garden wall already has received the blessing, if not final approval, of all federal planning agencies here. And so far it had been well received, but not yet funded, by Congress.
When first proposed, the garden wall was to have been 1,400 feet long and cost an estimated $20 million. Present plans call for a walled area 1,000 feet long, although there would be about 2,500 feet of winding walls within the memorial, according to the draft of the environmental impact statement (EIS) just released by the National Park Services.
The final EIS will be prepared after the Park Service hears from the public and the dozens of organizations now being asked to comment on the proposal. The Nov. 1 public hearing will be at 7 p.m. in the Department of Interior auditorium, 18th and C streets NW; written comments will be accepted until Nov. 8.
In addition to congressional funding, the plan still must be formally approved by the National Capital Planning Commission, the federal planning agency for the Washington area. The NCPC must consider the final EIS and public comments before making a decision. However, commission Chairman David Childs told a Senate committee this summer the commission has "reacted very favorably" to the proposed memorial and the commission considers it is an "appropriate-design."
The Park Service has concluded so far that the memorial would have little impact on the Tidal Basin and surrounding parkland because, unlike the previous proposals, it would take relatively little parkland - about 12 acres - and would not be very visible from a distance.
According tot he environmental impact statement, the impact would be relatively minor, affecting mainly parking traffic and the 400 teams that use ball fields in West Potomac Park.
The EIS doesn't deal with the $46-million cost of the proposed memorial, the cost of operating it or the number of Park Police and Park Service employes needed to operate it. However, those costs would be significantly greater than expenses for any of exisiting memorials here.
For example, the electric bill for the numerous water pumps, light and visitors facilities would range from $275,000 to more than $400,000 a year, at current rates, or more than five to eight times the cost of lighting and operating any other memorial. The lower electric bill estimate is based on a plan to slow water pumps to one-third speed at night and to turn off three-fourths of the lights.
The memorial would need a full-time staff of 44, including nine Park Police officers for 24-hour security, the Park Service estimates. THe Lincoln Memorial has a full-time Park Service staff of 25, the Jefferson Memorial, 22, and the Washington Monument, 31, including five Park Police officers assigned to each memorial.
The $46-million cost estimate includes $10 million for the walls and underground pilings, $7.3 million for roads and parking, $6 million for sculptures, $6 million for an interpretive center (including a 200-seat theater), $1.6 million for utilities, $1 million for landscaping and $1 million for plumbing (fountains and hardware). The estimate also includes an inflation factor and assumes the memorial will be completed by 1982, the 100th anniversary of Roosevelt's birth.
Persons wishing to speak at the Nov. 1 public hearing are requested, but not required, to register in advance with the Park Services by calling 426-7750. Written comments should be submitted before Nov. 8 and mailed to the National Capital Region. National Park Service, 1100 Ohio Dr. SW 20242.
Copies of the EIS are available at that address or may be seen at Martin Luther King Jr. Library, 9th and G streets NW, or the D.C. Recreation Department at 3149 16th St. NW.