Ahh, those unforgettable vistas that make Washington DC, Washington DC: the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument...and the Fair Housing Monument? Yes, if Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton realizes her entreaty to Congress to build a monument to the Fair Housing Act - "the last of the great civil rights acts." "Fair Housing and the movement to bring equal opportunity to the real estate market is intertwined with our nation's history. The federal government has been a part of the problem and an integral part of the solution" said Norton in a press release.
Sure, any DC visitor can tell you there are tributes to wars, presidents, generals and battles, but this appears to be the first memorial by the federal government to, well, itself. If Norton finds support, the battle will still be a long one, with Congress having anticipated frivolous monument building by instituting a bureaucracy as a shield, a stop-us-before-we-commemorate-again approach. The National Capitol Planning Commission, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, and the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission are the three federal agencies responsible for the location and design of any new "commemorative works" on federal land.
Dues for the National Association of Realtors are funding the effort, 100% of which will be paid by the NAR and its dues paying members. H.R. 3425, sponsored by Norton, authorizes the Fair Housing Commemorative Foundation to raise funds for construction and design. If the thought of another memorial in place of a ballfield dismays you, there is no cause for immediate alarm. While staff at Norton's office says the bill will be pushed vigorously in September, and may be ready for mark up by then, it still has to make it through Congress, then through a 24 step process controlled by the various commissions. Of course, the Lobsterman Memorial and Titanic Memorial, both in Southwest, show that there are holes in that safety net.
According to Lisa McSpadden, Director of the Office of Public Affairs of NCPC, the average time for a memorial to go from bill to built is 10 years, mostly due to funding, a large majority of which must be in place before construction can proceed. McSpadden says that the applicant for the memorial typically selects a site and presents the request to the commissions, which then 'guide' the process of design and siting, at which point the memorial becomes inevitable, barring a lack of funding.
At least there may be one new make out spot, unless that's just too creepy.