We’ll have a longer story about federal modernization projects in the stimulus package in Monday’s issue of Federal Times. A quick preview, though, because I want to address the misinformation floating around about the $200 million earmarked for the National Mall.
The House version of the stimulus includes about $2 billion for national parks, and yes, $200 million is for the Mall. But that money isn’t all for new grass on the Mall, as some critics are suggesting. That’s a ridiculous sum (even by the government’s occasionally wasteful standards).
Where is the money going? National Park Service spokesman Jeffrey Olson told me this:
The biggest part is the wall at the Tidal Basin [by the Jefferson Memorial]. That’s the major project… we need to stop it from dropping into the tidal basin. You’re not able to walk all the way around the basin, on the wall. The wall is literally sinking into the water.
I’m not an architect, but this seems dangerous, no? A pedestrian walkway sinking into the water near a major monument? $200 million price tag or not, it’s probably a good idea to fix it. (The memorial itself is solid, Olson says.)