To authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish a structure for visitor services on the Arlington Ridge tract, in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM SHADDOX, ACTING ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR PARK PLANNING, FACILITIES, AND LANDS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON FEDERAL LANDS, CONCERNING H.R. 4789, A BILL TO AUTHORIZE THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO ESTABLISH A STRUCTURE FOR VISITOR SERVICES ON THE ARLINGTON RIDGE TRACT, IN THE AREA OF THE U.S. MARINE CORPS WAR MEMORIAL, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.
May 24, 2016
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the views of the Department of the Interior on H.R. 4789, a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish a structure for visitor services on the Arlington Ridge tract, in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial.
The Department supports H.R. 4789.
H.R. 4789 authorizes the construction of a structure for visitor services to include a public restroom facility on the Arlington Ridge tract (Tract) in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial (Memorial), notwithstanding Section 2863(g)(1) of Public Law 107-107, which prohibits the construction of additional structures or memorials on this tract. This provision was included in P.L. 107-107 to preserve the open character of the Tract, while leaving open the option for future use of the Tract for burial space as part of Arlington National Cemetery if specifically authorized through later legislative action.
The Memorial was dedicated on November 10, 1954, to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775. The Memorial is managed by the George Washington Memorial Parkway and sits within the 25.32 acre Arlington Ridge tract of National Park Service (NPS) land in Arlington County, VA. Over one million visitors visit the Memorial annually, and several special events are hosted there each year including the start/finish of the Marine Corps Marathon and weekly Sunset Parades throughout the summer. Currently, the NPS provides portable restroom facilities for visitor use at the Memorial as there are no permanent existing facilities.
H.R. 4789 would authorize the NPS to construct a small structure in the area of the Memorial that would replace the existing portable toilets and hand washing stations. The structure would primarily be used as a public restroom facility and include a small area for signage and interpretive materials about the Memorial and surrounding parkland. The construction of this facility would complement the recently announced rehabilitation of the Memorial and surrounding grounds, which have been made possible by a generous $5.37 million donation from philanthropist David Rubenstein.
The design and construction of this facility is estimated to be less than $1 million, and would be funded either through the donated funds, through existing NPS appropriated funds, or a combination thereof. In addition, the steps for permitting and design would follow the normal process for operational improvements to parkland in the District of Columbia and its environs, to include approvals by the National Capital Planning Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts. The proposed structure would not impact the open space of the Tract any more than the existing temporary restroom facilities.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I would be happy to answer any questions that you or other members of the subcommittee may have.