National Park Service Launches Symposium on the Future of the National Mall

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National Park Service hosts the Future of the National Mall Symposium, an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on a major planning initiative for the National Mall's future.

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Today's Symposium highlighted democracy at its best, with people from all around the country making their voices heard in an effort to ensure that the National Mall of today and tomorrow looks and feels the way the public wants it to.

The public had their first opportunity today to provide feedback in-person on a major planning initiative for the National Mall at the Future of the National Mall Symposium, hosted by the National Park Service (NPS). The Symposium brought together experts in various fields, along with members of the public, to begin a national dialogue around the National Mall's future. This first-of-its-kind conversation touched upon a variety of topics, to clarify how this public space can successfully meet the needs of 25 million annual visitors while thriving.

The National Mall is every American's space to use and enjoy, and the National Park Service places the utmost importance on public feedback regarding this parkland. The National Park Service's goal is to protect this green core of the federal city and keep the National Mall up-to-date in terms of use, visitor services, and transportation. The Symposium is the first step in a public dialogue designed to provide scoping information about the issues and challenges facing the National Mall and begin discussing possible alternatives to improve and preserve this space.

The Symposium, which was held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Naval Heritage Center at the U.S. Navy Memorial, was moderated by NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams. Local, national, and international professionals were on hand to discuss the importance of this symbolic space, the challenges and possibilities for the National Mall.

Several speakers, National Mall & Memorial Parks Superintendent Vikki Keys and special guest Mayor Anthony Williams, discussed topics such as future land use, supporting the needs of visitors, and protecting historic resources. Members of the public received background on the last century of planning for the National Mall and were given the opportunity to voice their ideas and offer feedback during the day-long event.

"Democracy is a quintessential American ideal, and we call on everyone to take part in this democratic process," said National Mall & Memorial Parks Superintendent Vikki Keys. "Today's Symposium highlighted democracy at its best, with people from all around the country making their voices heard in an effort to ensure that the National Mall of today and tomorrow looks and feels the way the public wants it to."

In 2003, Congress passed the Reserve Act, which declared the National Mall a completed work of civic art and which also authorized the placement of three final projects for this space, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. This Act provides a foundation for the planning process the National Park Service is currently undertaking.

The Symposium marks the beginning of a long-term planning initiative to decide on the use, landscape and management of the National Mall. All agencies that have jurisdiction inside and bordering the National Mall have been invited to participate in the planning process. Currently, these agencies are cooperating with the National Mall on planning and will be working closely with the National Park Service to review alternatives and the draft plan.

Over the next several months, the National Park Service will continue to seek out comment and feedback on scoping issues as well as alternatives development and by spring will develop a draft plan based on public and expert opinion. The plan will be available for public comment and, after considering all feedback, the National Park Service will complete the National Mall Plan. Insight and best practices gained from the Symposium will significantly contribute to this process and final plan.

The public is encouraged to become involved by visiting http://www.nps.gov/nationalmallplan to learn more about the NPS' efforts. This website will provide direction on how to provide feedback and concerns, and to obtain updates on the plan's progress.

ABOUT NPS

National Park Service (NPS) was established in 1916 through an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson. Today, the National Park Service includes 390 areas, totaling 84 acres, across the nation. It is the mission of the National Park Service to protect and maintain these cultural, recreational and natural sites for the generations to come.

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