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The Roanoke Times: News, sports and entertainment stories and information from the Associated Press

Sep 9, 6:56 PM EDT


Grass to be greener on National Mall

By SARAH KARUSH
Associated Press Writer


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Frustrated with poor maintenance by the federal government, the group that built the Vietnam War memorial is aiming to improve its little corner of the National Mall by taking over lawn care for 13.5 acres marred by weeds, moss and brown spots.

Officials with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund said they were moved to act after reading an Associated Press investigative story on the lack of federal money for the mall, despite needed urgent repairs to the area known as "America's front yard."

The AP's story in July analyzed congressional spending since 2005 and found the mall has been at a disadvantage in competing for millions of dollars in extra funds doled out by lawmakers, compared with sites that are represented by powerful members of Congress. The entire mall, covering some 650 acres, is in the District of Columbia, which has no vote in the House or Senate.

Lawmakers frequently direct money to projects back home, but even as the problems became obvious at the National Mall - including the seawall visibly sinking in front of Thomas Jefferson's memorial - Congress killed a bill last year that would have funded repairs. In January, lawmakers nixed $200 million in proposed stimulus funding for the mall.

The private Vietnam veterans group plans to spend $96,000 in the coming months to repair a broken irrigation system and provide weed treatment, fertilization, aeration and other work. The group, which is working with the National Park Service to make sure the improvements adhere to the agency's specifications, intends to continue maintaining the grass in the long term, Fund President Jan C. Scruggs told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Repairs to the irrigation system are scheduled to begin Thursday.

One prominent Vietnam veteran involved with the fund, Texas businessman Peter Holt, who owns the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, remembers noticing problems when he spoke at a Memorial Day event at the monument this year. It had been years since he had visited the wall.

"I made just a passing comment: 'Gee, it doesn't look too good around here,'" said Holt, who chairs the fund's campaign to raise money for a planned education center to be built on the mall. "I thought maybe it was because of a drought."

Scruggs said he and Holt realized they needed to act if they wanted the grass to be improved any time soon.

"He said, 'Look, why don't we fix our corner? That way we can set the standard for the mall,'" Scruggs said. "Americans - we don't wait for the government to take care of things."

Scruggs said he hoped the effort might inspire other groups to take over lawn care elsewhere on the mall.

The Vietnam group will get some help improving the mall when an animal waste removal business, DoodyCalls, will have 15 operators from the Washington area sweeping the area Thursday. DoodyCalls said it, too, was prompted to help out because of the media coverage of the mall's conditions.

The veterans memorial fund could someday expand its own effort to encompass the area around the nearby reflecting pool, which is lined with bare, compacted earth instead of grass, he said.

The park service, which will continue mowing in the area, welcomes the effort, spokesman Bill Line said.

The National Mall did recently receive some stimulus money, and officials hope to soon start major renovation of the Lincoln Memorial grounds and reflecting pool, as well as repairs to the sinking seawall in front of the Jefferson Memorial.

The Trust for the National Mall, a fundraising group founded in 2007, is in discussions with the Vietnam memorial fund about contributing to the future maintenance of the 13.5 acres, trust President Caroline Cunningham said. She called the project "a great test case" for public-private cooperation on the mall.

"They have an energized group of constituents," she said of the memorial fund. "The project is very manageable in terms of cost."

Scruggs said the quality of the grass conveys a message to those who visit the monuments.

"Good grass visually has an impact on people," Scruggs said in an e-mail. "Places like governors mansions, the White House, corporate headquarters, the American cemetery at Normandy have impeccable grass."

---

On the Net:

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund - Official Web Site
 

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Did we ever expect better from Washington?
 

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Did Nam Vet ever get better.... :aargh4:
They came home different people for what they went through and were treated like crap and now ''uncle'' can't take care of their memorial. Is this a surprise?

It's a shame, they piss away money for so many needless programs and can't take care of a tribute to those who gave all.
 

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A suggestion that would work, though it would hardly be popular: move all congressional parking to the far side of the Mall, and have the elected folk be required to bring in three pulled weeds before being allowed to enter into the halls of Congress. Sort of like bringing in three tins of beef for the hungry, as a donation.
 

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How about charging for parking by congress and senate and visitors at the capitol,voila funds for upkeep
 

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A suggestion that would work, though it would hardly be popular: move all congressional parking to the far side of the Mall, and have the elected folk be required to bring in three pulled weeds before being allowed to enter into the halls of Congress. Sort of like bringing in three tins of beef for the hungry, as a donation.
It's the elected folk that are the weeds that need pulling....
Hopefully the voters will do some gardening in the next elections.
 

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It's the elected folk that are the weeds that need pulling....
Hopefully the voters will do some gardening in the next elections.
:hand10: How true.
 

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It's the elected folk that are the weeds that need pulling....

Hopefully the voters will do some gardening in the next elections.
Yup.

Don't have a weed, congressman? You don't get in. Don't do your job? You get pulled out at the root.

I like it! :yup:

Which reminds me, my copy of Being There (Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine) needs a bit of dusting off.

How about charging for parking by congress and senate and visitors at the capitol,voila funds for upkeep
$100/day. No more publicly-funded drivers or cars. They want to get to their seats? They can drive themselves, and pay for it themselves. $100/day, which goes to pay back the funds used to prepare their parking spaces, with the slush going for Capitol improvements, which could range from weed-pulling of the more agricultural variety, to weed-pulling of the more political sort. I like it!
 

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Is this the only war memorial being neglected? I wouldn't be surprised if it was.

For some reason Congress seems to me as having a lot of contempt for Vietnam and everything which surrounds it.

And yet, they are the ones who directly messed things up in Vietnam.

Well, I have contempt for Congress!
 

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Is this the only war memorial being neglected? I wouldn't be surprised if it was.
No! Actually the whole National Mall is a mess, and due to the numerous large functions held there it just seems to be going down hill. :frown:

Also many of the monuments are in trouble due to lack of maintenance and poor "placement" that wasn't known when they were first constructed (think Lincoln Memorial... the sea wall that protects it is crumbling).
 

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Shamfull.
Full of them. You said it. But then, DC's the town for it.

Seriously though, you'd think that major functions would be required to have in their basic budgets a line-item covering clean-up of the facility, such that they leave it cleaner/better than they found it. That would be too obvious, though, since it's a public "commons" with all the classic pitfalls of a common area.

Charge the organizers of major functions a refundable deposit that acts much like a renter's deposit does. If you clean up the place to standard, then you get it back; if not, not, then it goes toward the clean-up fund. Simple and fair.
 

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ccw9mm,

Don't go throwing around ideas that would be reasonable. Clean up and leave the event site better than what it was to start with, what kind of crazy talk is that. :rofl:

I do like the idea of having congress pull weeds on the way into work, although we all know that is beneath them, or at least they think so. :twak:

There are plenty of unemployed or other folks in the DC area that are receiving assistance. Maybe there would be some incentive to get them to do some work in the public spaces during their free time. :hand10:
 

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As a class, career politicians are the most contemptible group imaginable. I long ago lost respect for most of them. As always, the vets will take care of this job needing done.
 

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The only time I saw my dad cry was when we visited The Wall when I was 14 as he read the name of his best friend. My dad was one of those vets that never really made it home after the war. He was shot in 71' and put in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He made it home in 03' Thank God he finely has peace.
 

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IF ANYONE hears of a fund for this, please post it.

We Vietnam vets should just take over the damn maintenance of the Wall by donations to a directed fund. If we have to compete for maintenance with other sites in the DC area, we'll continue to see a decline in services. National Park Service appears to be the federal agency charged with the maintenance.

National Park Service
National Capitol Parks-Central
900 Ohio Drive, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20242
(202) 426-6841 or (202) 619-7225

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc. (VVMF) raised nearly $9,000,000 entirely through private contributions from corporations, foundations, unions, veterans and civic organizations and more than 275,000 individual Americans. No Federal funds were needed in the construction of the Wall.
 

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They (Congress) will think nothing about spending millions on the study of 'flies mating', but forget our fallen troops.
They should make congress go out a personally give the 'personal care' needed to show our soldier who have given their all some respect.

I wonder if a congressman would know how to run a lawnmower?:rolleyes:
 
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