United States Department of the Interior
1100 OHIO DRIVE, S. W.

18 SEP 1984


To: Associate Regional Director, White House Liaison

Through: Associate Regional Director, Operations

From: Ad hoc White House Liaison Committee on President's Park Signs

Subject: Inspection. of "public expressions" - Lafayette Square

As requested by Site Manager Carolyn E. O'Hara, an inspection of Lafayette Square was made on September 1l at 10:30 a.m. by Civil Engineer John Longworth, Tort Claims Officer Carole Crabtree, and Safety Manager Joe Bocci. Ms. O'Hara and Phillips Walsh of her staff were also in attendance. The purpose of the inspection was to determine the safety of the signs erected by demonstrators within the park area and to recommend corrective action.

Because of the poor and generally weakening conditions of the individual signs, it is not possible to recommend corrective action for each individual sign at this time, however, general recommendations which would apply are as follows:

1. Small signs - 2' x 4' or less

a. All should be mounted on a post fixed to a base which would resist windstorm action;

b. All should be removed from the pedestrian walkways;

c. All should be securely fastened to posts and base using screws and/or bolts and metal brackets.

2. Large signs - more than 2' x 4'

a. Signs of this size should be securely fastened to a fabricated wood or steel frame and base, with approved bracing and cross-bracing systems and weighted or anchored to prevent sliding or overturning.

b. Members should be fastened with screws or bolts and approved metal brackets.

It should be noted that none of the signs inspected on the site would comply with the D.C Building Code. The design of the signs should be subject to approval of both design and construction for the benefit of public safety. None of the signs inspected or seen would meet the aforementioned criteria.

Most local highway departments require the use of preservative-treated timber. The need for such treatment should be determined by the anticipated length of time the signs will remain at the location and any changing on-site conditions. Currently, some of these signs have been in use, erected, taken down, and re-erected, for approximately 1 year and appear worn out.

Many of the smaller Signs, though light in weight and apparently fragile, have the potential of becoming dangerous if propelled by high winds or becoming tripping hazards because of poor construction and lack of anchorage.

Most of the larger signs are constructed in the same manner using inadequate materials, poor anchorage, and weak or debilitated materials, as well as poor construction details and fabrication.

In preparation for the coming inaugural, the perimeter walks around Lafayette Square are being repaired/replaced. Additionally, it will become necessary to construct viewing stands on the north side of Pennsylvania Avenue. The construction work in the area will force pedestrians to use the interior walks of the park, which currently form the rough boundary of sign placement.

The anticipated increase in pedestrian use, advent of the fall and winter storm season, and high wind and snow (including freezing and melting), make it imperative to consider the stability, construction, and general condition of these individual "expressions" with regard to public safety and convenience.

It would appear that the demonstrators are not required to maintain any type of liability insurance to hold the Government harmless in the event that one of the signs causes injury to a pedestrian. It was further determined in conversation with some of those present at the scene that ownership of each individual sign was either unknown or unanswered to. It is suggested that the owner of each sign be required to make corrections to assure the safety and stability of the signs and that those which are unclaimed or the owner unknown be removed from the area to protect pedestrians as well as vehicular traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue, as it appears that the Government could be held liable for any injury which might result.

General observations on the protest signs may be noted on the photographs accompanying this memorandum.

/s/E. Joseph Bocci; /s/John Longworth; /s/Carole Crabtree

E. Joseph BocciJohn LongworthCarole Crabtree