On Tuesday, congressional lawmakers passed a bill that explicitly permits the District and the National Park Service (NPS) to strike joint management agreements for city parks that are on federal land, as part of a sweeping federal lands package. “This important bill clarifies the District’s ability to preserve and enhance the many NPS parks here,” District Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement. “Franklin Park, our first to engage, will serve as a model for parks to come.” The lands package now heads to the White House for presidential review.
On Twitter, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser hailed the legislative news on after it was announced.
Today, the House of Representatives passed a federal lands package that includes @EleanorNorton’s bill to allow the District to work with @NatlParkService and @DowntownDCBID to develop and improve Franklin Park!— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) February 27, 2019
⛏ Let’s get to work.
Original post, February 13:
The federal government owns thousands of acres of parkland in D.C., but for years, many of these parks—particularly, small triangles and traffic circles—have experienced neglect. That could soon change thanks to a provision tucked in a public-lands bill that the Senate passed with bipartisan support on Tuesday and that the House is poised to pass in the coming days.
Based on an earlier stand-alone bill by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the provision lets the District enter so-called “cooperative management agreements” with the National Park Service (NPS) for the oversight of federal parks located in the city. NPS is currently able to enter such agreements with states and cities, but federal law is not clear about the District.
The model for the prospective change is Franklin Square Park, which is controlled by NPS and is one of the largest green spaces downtown. In recent years, local and federal leaders, including Norton, have been pushing to rehabilitate the roughly five-acre park, which lacks robust programming and has a drab central fountain. Under plans hatched while Congress handled the legal issues, the DowntownDC Business Improvement District will oversee the park. (Per the Washington Post, President Donald Trump is expected to sign the lands bill.)
In a statement on Tuesday, Norton noted that “NPS owns nearly all of D.C.’s neighborhood parks,” so city residents stand to benefit from the legislation. Local lawmakers also welcomed the news, pointing out that other federally controlled parks in D.C. could see changes as well.
This is great news for the District. Thank you @EleanorNorton. It will make a big difference not just downtown at Franklin Park, but also has potential for neighborhood NPS parks like Seward Square, Lincoln Park, & many more. https://t.co/ThGDWA4b8w— Charles Allen (@charlesallen) February 12, 2019
Great update from @EleanorNorton! https://t.co/0fbqUa7Ott— Mary M. Cheh (@marycheh) February 13, 2019
Franklin Square Park is situated between K and I streets NW and 13th and 14th streets NW. Still to be seen is what will ultimately happen with the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium site and three golf courses in the District: The federal government continues to control them.
- No Parking: Why does the federal government still control D.C.’s circles and triangles? [Washington City Paper]
- D.C. Is Full Of Tiny, Obscure Parks. Can The NPS Keep Up With Them? [WAMU]
- The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. Here’s what’s in it. [Washington Post]
- House passes bill to allow District to invest in Franklin Park [Washington Post]
- The newest designs and a revised timeline for the restoration of a major downtown D.C. park [Washington Business Journal]
- D.C. will break ground on part of the RFK Stadium campus redevelopment this week [Curbed DC]
- D.C. Mayor Bowser asks Trump for control of RFK Stadium, parkland, golf courses [Curbed DC]