Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Committee of 100 Opposed 'Extending the Legacy'

A lack of news accounts about 1990s opposition to the South Capitol Mall did not mean that such did not exist, as evidenced by Joseph Passonneau’s South Capitol Street proposal which he flashed during his August 2000 slide show lecture at the National Building Museum, and his organizational connections, from which an opposition appeared more then 6 years before the November 2002 stadium study with the Nationals Stadium site alongside South Capitol Street.

This opposition surfaced in early 1996 in a not very well reported opposition to U.S. National Capital Planning Commission's Extending the Legacy program (this reporting also not mentioning the South Capitol Mall), via a letter sent to U.S. President Clinton by the private planning group the Committee of 100 on the Federal City (of which Joseph Passonneau is listed as a member). A review of news sources reveals only two short articles in The Washington Times in March 1996, which fail to indicate any specific complaints, (I need to find the full text of this letter). Reportedly, this letter calls Extending the Legacy as
"loopy" … "a collection of geometric fantasies" … "outdated, top-down, Olympian approach to planning of the nation's capital" …

Committee of 100 minutes 1995
Gelman Library (GW University) Special Collections

Mr McGrath reported that Mr Cooper has drafted a letter to President Clinton expressing the Committee’s concern about his lending his prestige of his office to the Monumental Core Planning effort. Rather then simply objecting to the President’s involvement, the letter suggests a better use of his authority. It recommends that the President form a commission to assess the whole planning process in the city and the region and make recommendations for appropriate legislative and administrative changes. Others are currently reviewing the draft and it will be sent out soon. Mr. Cooper recommended that Mr. McGrath’s 1992 report on planning be attached to the letter. Ms. McCarthy noted that these same issues and concerns need to be conveyed to Speaker Gingrich

As reported here:

Critics claim capital idea isn't grounded in reality

Insight on the News, May 6, 1996 by Brian Blomquist, Betsy Pisik

President Clinton has apploauded a federal planning commission's futuristic vision for Washington, but local planners consider it a `loopy' and untenable blueprint for the nation's capital.

Drafted by the National Capital Planning Commission at a cost of $1.7 million, a blueprint to revitalize the nation's capital has been praised by some and damned by others. But one thing is certain: No one has said where the city will find the billions of dollars to pay for the razing of highways, bridges and entire neighborhoods.

The planning commission's vision is contained in a 28-page booklet, replete with illustrations depicting a space-age shuttle flying over the city and a saucer-shaped, domed entertainment and recreational facility in place of RFK Stadium. "I fear it's a bunch of people in a sandbox dredging up nice ideas when the city is on the verge of bankruptcy, can't provide services and doesn't have a budget," says Richard Longstreth, who teaches architectural and urban history at George Washington University in the city and is vice chairman of the American Society of Architectural Historians.

But President Clinton recently met with some of the 12 members of the commission -- including Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Federal Reserve Board nominee Alice Rivlin, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, D.C. congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Marion Barry -- for 30 minutes in the Oval Office and later was enthusiastic about the plan.

"The president is, of course, very concerned about the future of the District of Columbia, and the plans are not only important historically, but they could have a significant impact on the district economy," says White House spokeswoman Mary Ellen Glynn.

According to commission spokesman David Julyan, the plan does three things for Washington: "It evens out economic development by locating future museums, memorials and other public buildings in neglected parts of the city. It reclaims the waterfront and gives it back to the people. Finally, it expands public transit to accommodate the 21st century."

The plan does not specify how officials would expand the financially strapped Metro bus and rail system or other public transportation, although it does envision use of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers as "highways." But Julyan says the plan addresses the economic engines that drive the capital -- the federal government and tourism. He also believes "it can play an important role in restoring the fiscal security and public image of Washington."

Commission Deputy Director Robert Gresham admits that the blueprint is purposely vague, as were the previous plans that shaped the city: the 200-year-old L'Enfant plan, which mapped the city, and the McMillan Commission plan of 1901, which created the 5,000acre monumental core. "We think it provides a framework that will serve as a guide for future development when the time is ripe," says Gresham.

For the plan to become reality, however, a great many elements must fall into place. City officials would have to support it, and right now they are not looking that far into the future. The Committee of 100 on the Federal City -- a volunteer organization of local planners, urban architects and historians that actually counts 175 members -- warned Clinton in December not to associate himself with the planning commission's vision.

"We are concerned that your presence will lend support to an outdated, top-down, Olympian approach to the planning of the Nation's Capital," said the committee's letter to the president, signed by committee chairman Dorn C. McGrath Jr., director of the Institute for Urban Development Research at George Washington. Critics argue that the blueprint ignores more realistic goals set by district government planners and tramples on dozens of neighborhood-development guidelines adopted by historic-preservation groups.

Contrast that opposition with their use of the inner cover fold (top) out from Extending the Legacy (which shows the SCM), and its motto:

To safeguard and advance the fundamental planning, environmental and aesthetic values inherited from the L’Enfant Plan and the McMillan Commission that give Washington its historic designation, natural beauty and overall livability.

MISSION STATEMENT For eighty years, the Committee of 100 has advocated responsible planning and land use in Washington, D.C. Our work is guided by the values inherited from the L'Enfant Plan and McMillan Commission, which give Washington its historic distinction and natural beauty, while responding to the special challenges of 21st century development. We pursue these goals through public education, research and civic action; and we celebrate the city's unique role as both the home of the District's citizens and the capital of our nation.


With the L’Enfant Plan establishing the National Mall west of the Capitol to the Washington Monument, and the McMillan Commission establishing its western extension to the Lincoln Memorial, one would presume that the Committee of 100 would naturally support the Extending the Legacy plan of an extension south of the Capitol, along a widened South Capitol corridor- especially with the illustration (above) from Extending the Legacy on the Committee of 100 home page (since excluded) which clearly shows the South Capitol Mall.


Its History and Its Service to the Nation's Capital
Richard Striner Ph. D


The Committee of 100 on the Federal City was founded in 1923 to act as a force of conscience in the evolution of the nation's capital city. It was formed to sustain and to safeguard the fundamental values derived from the tradition of the L'Enfant Plan and the McMillan Commission -- that give the nation's capital so much of its distinction, its beauty, and its grace as a community.

The Committee began in an age that sought to revive and extend the original planning ideals for Washington, D.C. Influenced by the “City Beautiful” movement, by resurgent architectural classicism, by the conservationist ethic, and by various urban reform movements inspired by the early 20th-century muckrakers, planners sought to make the nation's capital the living embodiment of their ideals. The creation in 1901 of the McMillan Commission led to the articulation of sweeping initiatives for extending the L'Enfant Plan and for establishing strong standards for parks, monuments, public buildings, and scenic vistas far beyond the monumental core of D.C. In the spirit of idealism that suffused the age of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the recommendations of the McMillan Commission inspired successive reforms: the establishment of the Commission of Fine Arts in 1910, the 1910 Height of Buildings Act, and the Washington Zoning Ordinance of 1920. These eventful years comprised the background to the establishment of the Committee of 100.

Another essential aspect of the Committee's founding was the widespread concern that the achievements of the preceding quarter century might prove to be fragile or insubstantial without continued oversight and advocacy. The distraction of World War I, followed by the laissez-faire of the early 1920s and the escapist “Back to Normalcy” spirit, led a number of prominent planners to undertake initiatives to preserve the momentum of planning in the nation's capital. The scope of planning concerns expanded to address D.C.’s overcrowded schools, dismal alley housing conditions, and environmentally damaged natural lands under threat of being lost to development.

When Frederic A. Delano was asked in 1922 to become chairman of the American Civic Association and to form a Committee of 100 on the Federal City within that group, he accepted because, as he put it, “We all realized that comprehensive planning would be more constructive than sporadic resistance to a constant succession of proposals unrelated to a general plan.” The American Civic Association, with 75 chapters throughout the U.S. focused towards the improvement of the national capital, gave the Committee a level of national support that no other city could claim.

The Committee of 100 released its first report in January 1924. The report recommended a major extension of Washington's park and forest preserves under the guidance of an overall planning agency that would focus on park planning as one of its major responsibilities. But the Committee of 100 had advocated more than just an agency for parkland acquisition, recommending also that broad planning powers be vested in such an agency. It was the Committee's continued advocacy of this concept that prompted the creation of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission (NCPPC) in 1926.

Frederic A. Delano, who was chairman of the Committee of 100 from 1923 to 1944, served concurrently as chairman of NCPPC through most of its formative years. Delano pioneered major planning efforts, most notably a comprehensive plan for parks, parkways and recreational facilities for Washington and environs. Delano’s work led to the acquisition of new parkland in Washington, D.C. and the creation of the George Washington Memorial Parkway on both sides of the Potomac River, as well as extensions of parkland along Rock Creek and the Anacostia River into suburban Maryland....
South Capitol Mall Sell Out via Frederic Delano's 'Family'

The Non-Informative "E" Groups

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