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National Mall Symposium - 2006

On Wednesday November 15, 2006 the NPS held a symposium on the future of the National Mall, attended by an estimated 150 people.

The event opened with greetings by officials from the U.S. Navy Memorial Naval Heritage Center followed by welcoming remarks from Park Superintendent Vikki Keys and Caroline Cunningham representing the National Park Service authorized fund raising partner, the Trust for the National Mall.  John Reynolds, Executive Vice President for Centennial Planning of the National Park Foundation declared the National Park Foundation support for planning for this sacred American space, the crown jewel of civic spaces in our nation.  The National Park Foundation, with Mrs. Laura Bush as honorary chair and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne as the Chairman of the Board of Directors is dedicated to preserving America’s treasures, such as the National Mall. The Foundation encouraged the National Park Service and the Trust for the National Mall with the important task at hand.

The opening session

After a break, when attendees could examine background displays and information or used computers to access the project website, the session ended with three presentations.

Following a lunch break, Juan Williams, Senior Correspondent for NPR, moderated two panel discussions with outside experts.  The first panel discussed use issues. Juan Williams asked questions of the panelists related to the importance of the First Amendment in this location, use and events and their impacts, and then took questions from the audience:

Eight term D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton made remarks about the importance of the National Mall, and introduced outgoing District Mayor Anthony Williams, who also spoke about the value and symbolism of the National Mall and the necessity of quality for the federal city.

The final panel discussed aging facilities and park infrastructure.  Juan Williams began by asking each panelist questions and then opened the discussion to the audience.

Juan concluded with the panel by asking each participant to identify the most critical needs.  Sara Cedar Miller felt the elm panels on the Mall which are in grave danger and should be fenced to protect this rare American resource that takes generations to achieve.  David Daileda felt that the Tidal Basin structural restoration is critical.  Larry Parkinson emphasized meeting runner needs to help improve appearance and reduce damage to the grass.  Harry Robinson assumed that if paving and structural problems were resolved the most important things would to reinforce the sense of place with flowers and fountains.  Kym Murphy agreed and also advocated for providing grouped visitor facilities and improved way finding signs.  

Moderator Juan Williams, the park Superintendent Vikki Keys and Regional Director Joe Lawler thanked the audience for coming and encouraged them to stay involved in planning for the crown jewel of American civic space – the National Mall Plan.