Saturday, July 5, 2008

The National Mall in Washington, D.C. is in poor shape

CNN reports on the poor conditions of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., home to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
This gathering place known as America's "front yard" stretches from the Capitol to the Potomac River and is home to the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials and Washington Monument, but it's starting to look like "an old rundown, worn-out mall that looks like it was abandoned 30 years ago," says Judy Feldman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall.

People are part of the problem. The National Mall has more visitors each year than Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon parks combined, according to the National Park Service.

"If you had 25 million people coming through your front yard, it might not look so nice either," said Bill Line of the park service.

The mall has an annual budget of about $31 million. But its backlogged maintenance needs are estimated at more than eight times that amount -- $258 million.

Among the most expensive projects include reinforcing a sinking seawall around the Jefferson Memorial and rehabilitating the World War I Memorial.

But there are other more pressing issues facing the National Mall, activists said.

"If you are in here and Johnny has to go to the potty you are in trouble ... there is no place to go," said Chip Akridge, who heads the Trust for the National Mall, which is raising private money to fix up the mall.

Restrooms, parking and transportation are all desperately needed, along with places to eat, activists said.

Akridge points to one snack tent, calling it Washington's "Tavern on the Green."

"This is America's front yard. You wouldn't have this in your front yard. ... No American wants it in this front yard," he said.

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