Requests to squeeze in a few more monuments on the Mall and concerns that a proposal to place new ones in District neighborhoods might result in traffic problems were raised at public hearings yesterday on a plan that would close the Mall to additional national memorials.
In two public hearings, members of the Joint Task Force on Memorials heard testimony from 18 witnesses on a draft proposal released Sept. 8 that would ban new memorials on the Mall and severely limit additions to adjoining areas.
The task force is made up of members of three commissions--the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Capital Planning Commission and the National Capital Memorial Commission--that must approve the site and design of any memorial proposed for federal land in the Washington area. The proposal grew out of concern the Mall was becoming crowded.
Exempted from the ban would be memorials that had site approval by Sept. 8. Those are the World War II Memorial, the Black Revolutionary War Patriots Memorial, the George Mason Memorial and the U.S. Air Force Memorial.
Also exempt is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, which has congressional approval to locate on the Mall but does not yet have a specific site.
New applicants would be encouraged to build in federal parks in District neighborhoods.
The proposed no-build zone is called the Reserve and covers the area between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial and between Lafayette Square and the Tidal Basin. An area that borders the Reserve is called Section A and would be for "memorials of preeminent significance." Area B--the rest of the District--is for "memorials of lasting historical significance."
Pleas were made to include on the Mall a national memorial to war dogs, African American families and disabled veterans before closing the area. Jeffrey L. Benson, of Winchester, Va., said a national memorial to military dogs is needed because of their contribution to the armed services. After the first hearing, he suggested "bookend" memorials to the dogs would be appropriate at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Jeanette H. Harris, a city historian, told the panel the Mall was the appropriate place to memorialize the African American family, "who gave their life's blood in the building of this country."
A professional tour guide, Carl Saperstein, questioned the wisdom of placing memorials in hard-to-reach parts of the city, citing the difficulty of taking large groups on the Metro and concerns that neighbors would have about traffic.
The record will be open for comments until Nov. 8.