Answers to Questions and Concerns
1st Amendment Questions and Answers related to the National Mall Plan:
- Would our ability as citizens to demonstrate change in plan alternatives?
No. Consistent with the First Amendment and federal regulations, demonstrations and other First Amendment activities would continue to be permitted throughout the park on a space available, first come request basis, and would continue to be regulated by 36 CFR 7.96.
- Would demonstrations be limited to specific areas?
No. Consistent with the First Amendment and federal regulations, demonstrations would continue to be permitted on a space available, first come basis. Since there were no changes proposed for locations of demonstrations, the newsletter 3 alternatives described highlights of actions related only to events, which are different than demonstrations. Alternatives proposed concepts in several areas that would increase the space available for events and demonstrations as well as facilitate this use of the National Mall.
- Would demonstrations be allowed in the side elm tree panels on the Mall?
Yes. Alternatives proposed that temporary facilities or structures (such as tents, stages, and related facilities) as well as vehicles would not be allowed within the side elm tree panels on the Mall (3rd to 14th) in order to maintain the mature elm tree canopy that defines one of the most recognizable and photographed views in our country. However, general public access to the area and shade would continue. Demonstrations generally do not seek use of the side elm panels for temporarystructures, staging and vehicles.
- Would demonstrations still be able to have stages and other facilities within
the center of view corridor between the U.S. Capitol, the Washington
Monument and Lincoln Memorial?
Yes. The NPS was exploring in alternative A the advantage of providing the public a narrow eye-level open viewing corridor to the symbols of our nation. This applies to events, not demonstrations. However, demonstrations may find that keeping tall structures from blocking visual access to these icons of democracy supports their goals.
- Would the National Mall be closed for construction for 10 years?
No. A typical NPS cycle from design through construction is closer to 3-4 years. The NPS goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure public access during construction. NPS would continue to accommodate demonstrations as any construction within discrete areas proceeds. The plan may identify a number of potential construction projects, but it is highly unlikely that they would be constructed at the same time.
Construction projects generally need to be within approved NPS plans, but completion of planning does not ensure or guarantee funding for any projects. Construction projects would still compete within the Service-wide NPS system for funding or they could be funded through donations.
- Will First Amendment rights be included and recognized in the preferred alternative?
Yes – absolutely. NPS is proud to manage this pre-eminent site where American values of freedom of speech are most fully expressed. Consistent with the First Amendment and federal regulations, this purpose will be confirmed in the National Mall Plan.
- What efforts has NPS made to inform the public?
The National Park Service has provided extensive public information regarding its planning process in the Federal Register on January 16, 2007 and September 6, 2007; in a November 1, 2006 press conference announcing the plan; assorted media reports and media releases; at a public symposium (November 15, 2006); through an established dedicated planning website at www.nps.gov/nationalmallplan and e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org, and through newsletters posted online and distributed to visitors at events and by park rangers.
Other Information in the new "The First Amendment on the National Mall brochure found at the park.