ANC On Track to Withdraw Support for Swamp Fox Memorial in Marion Park
by Larry Janezich
Tuesday night, about a dozen neighbors of Marion Park appeared before ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee to continue their protest against locating a proposed memorial to Revolutionary War General Francis Marion in Marion Park.
By the end of the meeting, the ANC appeared ready to withdraw its support for placing the memorial in the park – known as “Turtle Park” by the neighbors.
Last September, when approached by the National Park Service (NPS) to voice a preference for siting of the memorial, the ANC voted 4 – 3 with 2 abstentions in favor of locating it in Marion Park, though commissioners complained at the time about the NPS’s presumptuous process and lack of consultation. That vote was conveyed to the National Park Service in a letter detailing a list of attached conditions related to consultation with the neighbors of the park. Neighbors at that meeting complained that they had been blindsided, with virtually no notice that the park was being considered as the location of a memorial which they said was not only inappropriate for the park, but which would interfere with the public’s recreational use of it. See previous CHC post here: http://bit.ly/1wzFEQs
As of now, according to NPS’s Glenn DeMarr, who attended Tuesday night’s meeting, the project is on hold – the seven year Congressional authorization is set to expire on May 8, thus not allowing enough time to complete site approval or funding. The South Carolina sponsor of the memorial has so far garnered only $50,000 of the $1 – $2 million in contributions which must be raised during the authorization period. According the DeMarr, the South Carolina Congressional delegation has introduced a bill to extend the authorization for an additional three years. Nothing can happen until the authorization is extended, but sources indicated that passage of the bill is likely.
Neighbors opposed to the project said that last September’s ANC vote was being represented as community approval of siting the project in Marion Park, and that the conditions attached to that support were being disregarded. They said that the first thing that city representatives want to know when opponents seek their aid in opposing the memorial’s siting is “Where does the ANC stand on this?” and that as long as the letter is out there it will be cited as ANC support for locating the memorial in Marion Park.
The committee might have recommended rescinding the letter Tuesday night, but former ANC6B Chair and current Vice Chair Brian Flahaven said he was opposed to withdrawing a written recommendation of a previous ANC. Flahaven said he agreed that the NPS had misconstrued the ANC vote as community support for locating the memorial in Marion Park and hoped that next week the full ANC would find a way to withdraw its support for the memorial without rescinding the letter.
Only seven members of the ten member ANC were present Tuesday night, plus one resident commissioner. When the vote came on language offered by Commissioner Hoskins rescinding the letter, it failed on a 4 – 4 vote, with Commissioner’s Samolyk, Hoskins, Krepp, and resident commissioner Chris Alexander voting for rescinding. Commissioners Flahaven, Hagadorn, Burger and Oldenburg opposed. Commissioners Loots, Chao, and Jayaraman were absent.
A vote on language offered by Hoskins to simply oppose any further action on the Marion Memorial also failed on an identical 4-4 vote.
Given the strength of the opposition among neighbors it seems virtually certain that the ANC will vote to oppose any further action on siting the Marion Memorial in Marion Park. Whether that will have an impact on the final outcome, or whether the NPS will prevail in its seeming preference for siting the Swamp Fox memorial in Marion Park, thus continuing its long record of riding roughshod over the wishes of DC residents remains to be seen.
DeMarrs had no comment after the meeting other than to reiterate the project is on hold and nothing will happen until Congress reauthorizes it.