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In a recent issue of the Washington City Paper, there was an article debating the fate of the Washington Monument’s scaffolding (“New Life for an Old Skin,” 9/17). The article indicated that there are several commercial enterprises interested in purchasing this scaffolding and moving it to other places, such as a suburban subdivision, a shopping center in Virginia, or possibly out West to compete with the world’s largest ball of yarn and other like “attractions.”
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It is my understanding that the National Park Service owns the $2.5 million scaffolding. Many years ago, when the nation’s Capitol was renovated, the columns holding up the Capitol dome were moved to the National Arboretum. You can go there today and see these columns set upon a platform, complete with night lighting and a fountain. Why not move the Washington Monument’s scaffolding to the National Arboretum as well? Here, it would remain within the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, and it would be in the New York Avenue corridor, an area that the District is attempting to revitalize. If we are able to keep the scaffolding in the District, it would not become a commercialized attraction such as a shopping mall symbol or the gateway to a neighborhood subdivision.
By moving the scaffolding to the National Arboretum, the District would in effect be creating a very unique park. It would remain the beautiful arboretum that it is today. It would become a park filled with recycled monuments that have outlived their original purpose, but are beautiful and interesting in their own right. Perhaps one day the scaffolding could even be fitted with elevators and an observation deck. Visitors could then look out upon a part of D.C. that few tourists currently visit.