The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is taking steps to improve the condition of the lawn at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as on the five-acre site that is the future home of the Education Center at The Wall, said Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Memorial Fund. Overall, the Memorial Fund’s efforts will improve approximately 13.5 acres on the National Mall.
Work will begin next week to replace defective sprinkler heads on the current irrigation system, which waters the grass above The Wall and in front of it. Weed treatment is also expected to commence next week, the first part of a multi-phase plan to improve the grass on the site.
The Memorial Fund has been conferring with the National Park Service, the stewards of the National Mall, and JC Cummings, the architect of record for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, since late summer to determine what needs to be done and find experienced companies to perform it.
“We are sorry to see the National Mall in this condition,” said Scruggs. “But we also understand that the upkeep of a park as big and as heavily visited as the National Mall is an expensive undertaking. The Memorial Fund is happy to help and will set a new standard for lawn care on the National Mall.”
“The NPS and the National Mall and Memorial Parks welcome the assistance from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund,” said John Piltzecker, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. “This help from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, in addition to upcoming projects with stimulus money from the Obama administration, will allow us to build new walkways, improve access and install lighting systems in areas near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that will make the western end of the National Mall that much more attractive and visitor friendly.”
Capital Irrigation & Lighting Inc. of Hanover, Pennsylvania, has been hired to repair the existing irrigation system on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site. Ruppert Landscape of Laytonsville, Maryland, has been hired to seed, fertilize, aerate and provide weed control for areas including: the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site; the knoll area east of The Wall; the park ranger kiosk area between the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial; and the five-acre site bordered by Constitution Avenue, 23rd Street and Henry Bacon Drive that is the future home of the Education Center at The Wall. The Memorial Fund hired both companies to perform this work.
The Memorial Fund also has contracted to water the lawn in areas not currently served by an in-ground irrigation system. Irrigation is in place only for the area on top of and in front of The Wall. Investigations are being made into the cost, labor and inconvenience involved in modernizing the current irrigation system and expanding it to include the knoll area east of The Wall.
The Memorial Fund is also exploring options for treating and preserving the surface of the flagpole and flagpole base on the Memorial site, repairing the directory stands and correcting damage that has been sustained on The Three Servicemen statue. Work on the flagpole and directory stands is expected to begin this month and will be performed by Stuart Dean of Washington, D.C.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund will pay for all of these improvements out of private funds and is seeking corporate sponsors for long-term improvements and quality lawn care for the next decade.
The idea for taking responsibility for lawn care at the Memorial came after Scruggs and Peter Holt, who is the chairman of the campaign to build The Education Center at The Wall, read news reports lamenting the condition of the grass on “America’s Front Yard.” The two conceived of the idea to help the National Park Service with this monumental task by volunteering to provide first-class lawn service for the Memorial site and the future site of the Education Center at The Wall. In fact, plans for the Education Center will include providing lawn care services in perpetuity.
History of Memorial preservation
The Memorial Fund has been a partner with the National Park Service in Memorial preservation from the beginning, taking an active role in the physical needs of The Wall, The Three Serviceman statue and flagpole, and the rest of the three-acre site on which the Vietnam Veterans Memorial rests.
Services routinely provided by the Memorial Fund include the insurance of The Wall against damages, provision of copies of the Directory of Names to assist visitors on-site and Wall maintenance. The Memorial Fund also adds names to The Wall and makes status changes for those whose remains have been returned home.
The Memorial Fund continues to work with highly qualified engineers and architects to monitor the short and long-term needs of the Memorial. The current program of lawn care fits well into the Memorial Fund’s existing role of Memorial preservation.