Greater Greater Washington

Park Service rules stifle neighborhood events in Dupont

Inflexible National Park Service rules and rude employees have created huge headaches for neighbors in Dupont Circle trying to bring community energy to their neighborhood park.


Photo by dbking on Flickr.

Over 2,000 people, many decked out in flags or other creative costumes, packed Dupont Circle last summer to watch the United States play England in the first round of the World Cup. That was just one of many recent events organized by a new community group, Dupont Festival.

Organizers, however, had to contend with a hostile reception from Park Service permit officials, sudden last-minute changes, expensive yet unhelpful Park Police, and complex paperwork requirements which threatened to derail this and other events even up to the very end.

Many people sit in the park and enjoy the fountain during nice weather, but it hosts few structured events. Dupont Festival organizers want to activate the circle to become more of a community gathering place and focal point for events drawing neighbors and people from around the region.

Besides the World Cup viewing, they arranged for the park to host Police Night Out in August, a FotoWeekDC photography exhibition in November, Youth Pride Day in April, and a screening of E.T. in June.

These are just the kind of events that any city would love to have in one of their parks. But organizers report encountering little more than hostility and obstruction from the National Park Service.

Aaron DeNu is a manager of technology and outreach at The George Washington University, and has lived in DC since 2007. He was a principal organizer of the soccer day and the E.T. screening. He characterizes his experience with the Park Service as a string of "unprovoked and highly irritating tactics toward citizen groups."

For the soccer event, DeNu says he sat down with NPS officials after he and the other organizers spent considerable time crafting a detailed plan for the event. In a meeting with people from the local ANC, the Mayor's office, and Jack Evans' office, he was hoping for honest feedback and a genuine interest in collaboration to figure out how to make the event work.

Instead, he says, an official from the NPS permit office just flipped the paper DeNu had prepared upside down on the table and flatly rejected the idea, giving a long litany of reasons it wouldn't work. DeNu repeatedly asked how he could make this work, to an icy response; DeNu says "you could cut the tension in the air" at that initial permitting meeting.

They eventually did get permission to put on the event, at a cost of about $30,000, which they raised online and through local businesses. The $2,000 permit cost included hiring several Park Police officers for $66 per hour each, for a minimum of 6 hours.

Despite this, at the soccer event, DeNu says the Park Police just sat in their cruisers even when he approached them for assistance with crowd control around the edge of the circle. Instead, he turned to local MPD Lt. Scott Dignan, who brought a small team of police officers on his own initiative and helped keep the event running smoothly entirely pro bono.

DeNu ended up getting fined $3,189.85 after that event, for what NPS officials tell him was damage to the flowerbeds. But they refused to let him find some community organizations willing to fix any flowerbed issues instead.

At a wrap-up meeting following the soccer event, Dupont Festival President Mike Feldstein says, the permit official "gave a long rant about all of the awful things that they thought happened that day." But MPD Sergeant John McDonald quietly pointed out to the Park Service that such events are "about the best things to happen in Dupont Circle, since they directly contribute to reducing crime in the area," Feldstein said.

The Park Police were much more helpful a year later for E.T. DeNu says the officer there was very encouraging and supportive when he was wrangling with another hostile NPS employee, a park ranger who arrived just a few hours before the event. As DeNu tells it, the ranger immediately started criticizing him for arriving in the park before the hour specified on his permit, not having pieces of plywood to place beneath two tripods. She also threatened to completely "pull the plug" on the event.

According to DeNu, none of this had been discussed during meetings with the permit office, but was in the permit. Why hadn't he read the permit in detail? Because, DeNu says, their contact in the permit office refused to send it over email or provide it in person but instead would only fax it the day of the event, while DeNu was busy setting up.

The day before, DeNu received an email at 5:06 pm notifying him he had to procure insurance for the event. The email says that this was part of a letter sent to Feldstein a week earlier. Feldstein says in a reply that he never received that letter. Nor, DeNu notes, did anyone tell them of this requirement during face-to-face meetings.

DeNu frantically called around the next morning and managed to find an insurer in Indianapolis who could cover the event on short notice. DeNu says he then showed up in person to deliver proof of insurance, only to hear of additional paperwork issues that had to be resolved involving W-9 forms.

He forwarded their permit official the proper form, which he claims he had already sent, and asked the official to check his email right away to ensure it had arrived; instead, he says, the official "stared me down" and made things "very uncomfortable there at the permit office."

An email thread from the day in question goes into a lot of minute detail about various forms, but it's clear from reading the exchange that the permit official is not taking advantage of opportunities to work constructively with DeNu and Feldstein to help make the event happen.

Whether there were indeed errors in the forms, or whether a letter was sent or not, is not the point. Reading the exchange, it appears that that DeNu was trying to do everything to make the event work, even sending copies of forms both on paper and electronically, while the NPS permit office set up a gauntlet of bureaucratic obstacles with the threat of rejecting the permit entirely at the last moment as penalty for a mistake.

Feldstein said in one of the emails, "While last-minute notifications by the National Park Service is our usual experience, it is still upsetting, time consuming and most certainly not operating in a friendly, supportive manner."

Repeatedly, DeNu says, the NPS explained these bureaucratic procedures on the grounds that they apply the same procedures to parks across the country, from the Grand Canyon to Dupont. But local neighborhood parks are not the same as Yellowstone. That is a unique wilderness area that needs strong protection. Anyone organizing an event there surely has the ability and resources to plan far ahead and comply with complex procedures.

Car manufacturers and movie studios would love to bring heavy equipment into some large wilderness parks to shoot commercials or films, and that could certainly damage the fragile environment. Giant rallies have a right to operate on the Mall, but without provision for cleaning up trash and handling bathroom facilities, it could turn into a nightmare.

For small neighborhood parks, however, it's just not necessary to impose the same complex rules and procedures. A few small tripods for E.T. will not cause the same damage as a crane-mounted camera might. It serves a park's purpose to help energetic residents or small neighborhood organizations to hold events even if they don't have years of experience and teams of lawyers to ensure they get every form right the first time.

This is one of the many reasons the Park Service needs to develop separate procedures for events in urban parks. Or, better yet, they could encourage local Parks Conservancy organizations, as New York has, that handle much of the day-to-day administration and maintenance in the parks.

A local Dupont organization could manage such events, perhaps getting the insurance themselves and helping neighbors through the process, including teaching them to anticipate issues NPS officials don't bring up during the in-person meetings. It could also either make sure tripods don't damage the ground, or get local groups to fix any damage that might result, without having to go through the Park Service's complex national procedures and rules.

Dupont Festival hopes to make future events easier and build the expertise and resources needed to deal with NPS's requirements each time. That could assist more residents who want to make Dupont able to fulfill its potential for the neighborhood. But they could do so much more if NPS could only look beyond its strange insistence on identical rules for Dupont as for Yosemite, and its hostility toward working with community groups.

David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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This is great stuff.

Does anyone have a handle on how much NPS spends on the "non-core" parks? I see the National Mall, Rock Creek and the GW Parkway as all "core" parks that have a national mission. But these smaller parcels really should be given back to DC.

by charlie on Aug 1, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

Go directly to the Secretary of the Interior's office with these complaints.

by Ronnie on Aug 1, 2011 10:40 am • linkreport

Why is Dupont Circle controlled by NPS instead of the city? Are other circles like this?

by Ted on Aug 1, 2011 10:41 am • linkreport

Ted: All of the circles are controlled by NPS, as far as I know. Dupont, Logan, Scott, Thomas, Grant, Sherman, Ward, Sheridan, Westmoreland, Chevy Chase, Columbus, Randle... same for most but not quite all squares and many triangles.

by David Alpert on Aug 1, 2011 10:45 am • linkreport

I've also noticed NPS officers walking around parks like Dupont Circle waking up homeless people who are sleeping on benches. Not asking them to leave, or asking them to sit up so that other people can also sit on the benches, just waking them up by poking them in the chest with nightsticks.

I don't know about you, but I certainly feel much safer knowing that homeless people are being hassled for no particular reason.

Thanks for helping out NPS, what would we ever do without you?

by Adam on Aug 1, 2011 10:46 am • linkreport

These parks should definitely be turned over to DC, but I'm not sure if that's politically possible. Maybe NPS could create a separate office dedicated to urban parks. It should report straight to the director or some other higher-up.

by Tim on Aug 1, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

Is there a petition or something we can get circulated to raise awareness of the poor service and poor condition of the NPS controlled small parks in DC?

by Scott on Aug 1, 2011 11:07 am • linkreport

Go directly to the Secretary of the Interior's office with these complaints.

Exactly, why hasn't anyone contacted the Dept of the Interior. We've got a totally progressive Democrat in the White House. Of course he's going to be incredibly responsive to urban concerns!

Heck, Congresswoman Norton could just pick up the phone and get this stuff sorted out this afternoon.

by oboe on Aug 1, 2011 11:17 am • linkreport

@David

I'm empathetic to complaints about NPS, and basicallu agree with most of the opinions on your blog. To re-hash: Their behavior toward pedicab drivers and CaBi station is reprehensible, and only undermines their own stated objective of protecting America's parks for all to see. (Wouldn't improving access mean more people would GET to see?) And maybe a lot of problems with DC parks and squares (namely that most squares in the L'Enfant city are booring) could benefit from a transfer of control from NPS to the DC government.

Still, this story is more than a little one-sided. Did you reach out to NPS for their feedback before you printed this? If so, did they have anything else to say other than what DeNu sent you, or did they refuse to comment? C'mon, Davey, ol' pal. In the words of Hugh Grant, "You should try real journalism ... you could probably do it." It's a lot harder for me to want to hate on NPS unless I know they had a fair chance to speak their mind.

by Ronald on Aug 1, 2011 11:20 am • linkreport

Those of you who want the NPS to have more community oriented uses of the park are just acting as another example of people who want to turn DC into another New York City. That completely ignores the unique and special character of Washington, DC as envisioned by the original L'Enfant plan where all open green spaces would be controlled by the federal government and unburdened by the presence of things like "events" and "people" that you find in other, denser, dirtier cities.

/Lance

by JustMe on Aug 1, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

I had typed something but lost it. I pretty much agree with Ronald and also wondered what was NPS's statement on this. I understand that you seem to have read e-mail exchanges and no you don't always have to present both sides, but this is so much about one person's perspective, it begs into question the impartiality here. As it is, this story is another in a growing list of indictments against NPS and as a reader, I would be left to assume that there is no value in NPS - that they're always mucking something up.

The good thing about articles like this is that is does draw attention to what some perceive as a huge problem. The bad thing is potentially creates unecessary PR problems for advocating communities.

by HogWash on Aug 1, 2011 11:29 am • linkreport

Ronald,

The NPS has a police force and a PR department. They can speak for themselves. And in many cases, they have spoken for themselves on issues like this.

Dave Alpert isn't their personal PR firm. Seriously, our media has been corrupted by the constant need to get "a quote from each side." If someone, like the NPS or one of their advocates, has a perspective to add that Dave is missing, they can email him or add a note in the comments here.

by JustMe on Aug 1, 2011 11:29 am • linkreport

amen, JustMe, a-freaking-men.

by Geoffrey Hatchard on Aug 1, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

@JustMe:

What, no supporting references to L'Enfant's immaculate and sublime vision of spotless emerald swathes of grass broken only by cool white cenotaphs of marble? If the Frenchman were alive today, there's no question he would be yelling at these hipster kids to "get off my lawn!"

by oboe on Aug 1, 2011 11:33 am • linkreport

this is so much about one person's perspective, it begs into question the impartiality here.

Once again, we have the perspective of the NPS on a regular, constant basis, whereas few of us ever have the perspective of someone who tries to organize events in Dupont. By their nature, there are few people that try to do this. So it's worthwhile to see the perspective of someone who deals with NPS on a regular basis to do something that most of us don't. But you know that, and you're just using this to, as you put it yourself, engage in acting out an "online persona" of the provincial EOTR dude lashing out at GGW-types.

by JustMe on Aug 1, 2011 11:33 am • linkreport

To anyone who says I needed to do even more free work than I already am, we are welcoming volunteers. I'd welcome having someone volunteer to contact every government agency every time we are writing about them, ask them for comment, and follow up multiple times if necessary to get a quote which we can stick into the article.

Just contact us at info@ggwash.org if you are interested in doing this, or any other one of the things that you say we ought to be doing in addition to everything we already do on a completely volunteer basis.

by David Alpert on Aug 1, 2011 11:34 am • linkreport

@oboe; I bow to your powers of sarcasm. And I wish someone would pass a law prohibiting federal officials from being driven in a SUV.

by charlie on Aug 1, 2011 11:35 am • linkreport

@JustMe. And to think, my "lashing out" consists of asking whether it's fair to publish an article attacking NPS (or any group/organization/agency) w/o input from the actual group.

As noted, you don't think it's necessary to seek the "other side" because requiring such (a silly thing) has corrupted our media. Unlike you, me and my EOTR lashing out believes that's the only way to achieve balance in our reporting. That remains true as long as you believe there should be balance. I still believe it. You don't. Duly Noted.

I also feel confident that if an article ran that criticized GGW and had no statement of someone from GGW, you likely would think that "not including" a statement from GGW would be an attack or at least unfair to the extent of objective reporting. Here, I'm asking the same, no-brainer thing and not making an excuse simply because I agree with it.

An article critical of GGW will happen. And it won't have the statement from GGW. And most of the community will rail against the unfair attack. Just don't get your anti-nimby panties in a bunch when it does.

by HogWash on Aug 1, 2011 11:46 am • linkreport

@DAl, come on dude, really?

You volunteers are so busy that you can't quality assurance check your articles?

No one asked you to be Lois and Clark dude. But to insinuate that you're too busy doing this "volunteer work" that you can't get a quote from a group you're criticizing? That's crazy. No one made you post this article before getting a comment from NPS. You chose to.

Speaking of being too busy volunteering, is that why this site is the only one of note which failed to include any other possible reason why Wells was removed from his chairmanship? All the other sites had at least scant info on Wells' reputation among other councilmembers. Too busy volunteering or didn't support your angle?

Really D, the "we're just volunteers" line is as tired as Marion Barry's.

by HogWash on Aug 1, 2011 11:58 am • linkreport

GGW is a blog. It is not journalism. None here could ever, in their wildest dreams, consider themselves journalists.

This is not the WaPo or hell even the City Paper. None of the young hipsters here are journalists.

To ever conflate this - or any - online diary to an actual journalistic endeavor is a complete and utter bunch of ... hogwash.

In closing, Stop Chucking my Wood!

by greent on Aug 1, 2011 12:00 pm • linkreport

HogWash: I don't know, I spend all day, every day, working on this, and then there's a small group of people like TGEoA, you, charlie, etc. who seem to pop up all the time and just try to tear things down and cast aspersions on what we're doing. If you don't like the blog, just stop reading.

by David Alpert on Aug 1, 2011 12:00 pm • linkreport

A good way to solve this problem (after getting no response) is to simply say, "as of this writing NPS has not returned an e-mail/call seeking clarification."

I'm sure you're aware that NPS likely reads your blog. They'll get the picture.

by HogWash on Aug 1, 2011 12:01 pm • linkreport

Ugh...this post just oozes lazy entitlement. The NPS certainly deserves some of the lumps they get, this isn't one of them.

1. I love soccer. I've liked it for decades, long before it became a "hip" thing to do here in the states, but Dupont Circle was a horrendous choice to begin with. Thousands of people, crammed into a circle without facilities, isolated, all having to cross 4 lanes of traffic to get to.

2. The permit process isn't made up on the spot. Its well known and countless organizations, religious, civic, industrial and commerical alike manage to do their due diligence, navigate the myriad of forms and requirements to get all the required pieces in place without whining like children every year here in the District. This Denu guy had no idea what he was doing, and it showed. Thats not the NPS's fault, its his. Denu apparently spent tons of time "organizing" the event before even approaching the NPS, which should have logically been his first step.

Instead of simply admitting it, he and GGW decide to launch another broadside against their urbanist enemy of the month. "but it's clear from reading the exchange that the permit official is not taking advantage of opportunities to work constructively with DeNu and Feldstein to help make the event happen."

Translation..."Waaaa, I had no idea what I was doing and I wanted everyone else to do all the legwork for me because I couldn't be bothered to read the fine print.

One can have the opinion that some rules are too onerous. Fine, but you lose all credibility to comment on those rules when you can't bother to actually do your due diligence in finding out what those rules are to begin with.

by freely on Aug 1, 2011 12:04 pm • linkreport

Oh yeah, forgot to mention greent as one of the nastier haters. HogWash, your commenting started out very interesting and constructive, but recently you seem to have entirely stopped talking about whatever issue we are discussing and instead just started complaining about the site and the community over and over.

by David Alpert on Aug 1, 2011 12:05 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash

Is it "fair to publish an article attacking NPS (or any group/organization/agency) w/o input from the actual group?"

Yes.

Next question.

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 12:07 pm • linkreport

Dang Alpert, I was actually giving you credit here.

You are not a journalist. You have a nice hobby, and it keeps peeps informed of info and your opinion on that info, but this is NOT journalism.

I don't hate on you, I just don't fawn all over everything you write, and I keep in perspective that you are not the voice of all urbanists. You are one blogger in a sea of bloggers with interests and opinions.

But nice to know I am tops of your list.

by greent on Aug 1, 2011 12:15 pm • linkreport

Reading this I was reminded of one local NPS park that does seem to work OK with the community: Glen Echo. How did Mont. Co. get that over? Still, looking at the GEP Partnership's site I see that the NPS rules on photography are in place. Note: Photographs taken by professional photographers are considered commercial regardless of whether the photographs are for personal use, e.g. wedding or engagement photos, or for use in a commercial publication. The fact that the photographer is conducting business in the Park makes it a commercial shoot as defined by National Park Service permit regulations. This also applies to photography students and others who would like to conduct a photo shoot in the Park. [Emphasis mine.]

by D. Murphy on Aug 1, 2011 12:16 pm • linkreport

Dude, what? Are you serious? Was it a ton of work to copy and paste an email that someone else sent you and upload it to a blog? True, your commute down the stairs sounds like it sucks (http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/5884/bike-to-work-tomorrow-tour-dc-and-arlington-this-weekend/), but if you had time to craft 1,500 select words ripping on a Federal agency, you probably also had time to shoot an email to their public affairs office and ask if they had a comment.

Moreover, as a member of the RAC, you've assumed a (laudable, if titular) level of civic visibility that also allocates some obligation on your part to present facts fairly when doing certain things, like calling on people to rally against a government organization. If nothing else, it erodes your own credibility to provide objective advice to the WMATA board on local issues if they have to be afraid that you will use your blog as a bully pulpit if you don't get your way. Otherwise, this sounds less like you're trying to raise awareness of an important issue, and more like your friend wanted you to vent for him.

Also, you blog for free because you chose to. No one holds it against PoP that he has ads, so leave the pitty party darts in your quivver.

by Ronald on Aug 1, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

greent, given the unreliability and nigh-uselessness of so-called "real" journalists, which in DC newspapers seems to consist of just getting quotes from city councillors to hear "their side" and re-printing press releases from local think tanks, I really fail to see what your criticism entails. Dave Alpert tells us stuff we didn't hear before. Your complaint is that this isn't "real" reporting.

by JustMe on Aug 1, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

JustMe: I was not complaining, nor was I criticizing.

Pointing out that a blogger is not a journalist is not a complaint.

Decrying the horrible conditions of the 4th estate does not elevate a blog to a journalistic endeavor.

I said that this blog "keeps peeps informed of info" - so I didn't say the blog was useless or that I find it useless - I read it! But this is not journalism. I am sorry that you fail to see that.

by greent on Aug 1, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

This blog is great. But it could be GREATER.

by Ronald on Aug 1, 2011 12:28 pm • linkreport

I am horrified by the Park Police. If 10% of what's written here is true, NPS still deserves to be booted from their position as overlords of local amenities in DC.

People who can only focus on what David hasn't done to give the NPS side of the story should start their own blog.

by Ward 1 Guy on Aug 1, 2011 12:29 pm • linkreport

@Alpert

I'll stop reading and commenting when GGW stops trying to shape public policy.

by TGEoA on Aug 1, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

Ronald, if you're unhappy with this post, I'm sure David will give you a full refund.

Look, you're all adults. You can read and make your own deductions. If you feel like part of the story is missing, then weigh the post as such. But it isn't like David is lying. He's not reporting anything that's not true. He's not leaving out critical facts. If he's made a mistake, point it out and he'll correct it. If you want to read the paper and get the "both sides" coverage, they do sell them in the area.

Does this blog have an agenda? Yes. That's kind of the point. You're criticizing it for not being something it is not trying to be. It's like ordering the fish sandwich and complaining that it's not pasta. This blog is what it is, if that doesn't work for you find a blog that is what you want, don't try to force this to become something else.

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 12:44 pm • linkreport

TGEoA: Commenting on public policy is fine. Commenting with nastiness to try to hassle individuals is not. You repeatedly try to cross that line, get warned, back off, then cross again.

by David Alpert on Aug 1, 2011 12:45 pm • linkreport

Let's give the NPS parks to DC? Gee, DC does such a great job maintaining the parks and other facilities already under its control, so let's give it more to do. DC can't even empty the trash cans at the city's playgrounds.

I'm with NPS on this one. An event with 2000 people would put a heck of a burden on a small park with flowerbeds, fountain, etc. Not to mention having 2000 people in the middle of a busy traffic circle is probably not the smartest idea. Why not have the World Cup or other large gatherings event at RFK or in its parking lots? No trampled parkland and it's not like the complex is used much anyone.

by Bob on Aug 1, 2011 12:48 pm • linkreport

You know what I'm really sick of on this blog? The fact that in the last few months the comments on nearly every article turn into a meta-discussion about whether this blog is "fair" or "biased." It is extremely tiring.

Let me lay it out for you:
This blog has a point of view and an agenda.

If you want to provide a constructive alternative viewpoint in a discussion of the issues at hand, many of us are happy to have you here contributing to that discussion. But if you want to have a meta-discussion about the journalistic merits and "fairness" of the articles on this blog take a hike. If the NPS feels slighted and wants to contact David about this article, I'm sure he will be more than happy to post those comments for all to see, as he has in the past.

If you are interested in changing the overall viewpoint of the articles on this blog, either write an article yourself or go start your own blog. But asking someone to provide your talking points for you is the epitome of laziness.

by MLD on Aug 1, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

@MLD +1

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 12:52 pm • linkreport

@TGEoA

"I'll stop reading and commenting when GGW stops trying to shape public policy."

Whoa, hey, slow yo roll. That's not fair--we should all want to shape policy. Otherwise go to Bhutan. And let's stop picking on David, since he's done more work on this stuff than most of the rest of us. Sorry, D.A.

But that's WHY it helps to go the extra mile and give NPS a platform they didn't earn. NPS in DC has some huge shortcomings, let's not look past that. But this post and subsequent discussion underscore how important it is to make sure we focus attention on the issue, and not allow for the possibility that accusations of deliberate misrepresentation open cracks of doubt in an otherwise straightforward point: that NPS (in DC) is not contributing to a livable city.

Leaving their voice out of this post allows people to entertain arguments of plausible NPS excuses. But letting their PR guy talk is like letting Jeter discuss WMATA: Incorporating their voice really just lets them dig their own grave.

by Ronald on Aug 1, 2011 12:53 pm • linkreport

@TGEoA

Why should GGW stop trying to shape public policy?

You seem to be unaware of what issue advocacy is and its place in civil society. I don't need to explain that GGW is a blog that advocates the improvement of the DC metro region through the David's prism of smart-growth. As greent said, GGW raises awareness of issues related to this issue locally and regionally that might otherwise be difficult for its readers to find.
Yes, TGEoA, GGW tries to shape public policy towards a particular end because that's what an entity engaged in issue advocacy does. Whether or not you agree with the ends or means of said advocacy is up to you.
But to complain about this blog being what it is essentially set up to be is like complaining about Cardinal Werhl speaking against Gay Marriage in the district. While I personally disagree with his and the Church's stance, and am glad they lost, I respect their right to engage on the issues in politically legal and ethical terms.

by It is what it is on Aug 1, 2011 12:56 pm • linkreport

letting their PR guy talk

No one is stopping their PR guy from talking. He's a PR guy. And that was sort of my point: the NPS has a PR infrastructure that allows them to cultivate relationships with the public and get their message out. They don't need David's help so he can serve as a PR auxillary for them.

What kind of benefit a "real" journalist will give on these issues over GGW, as greent seems to claim, is up in the air. I don't think that's really Alpert's aspiration. That's like telling someone, "well, you'll never be a REAL garbage man!"

by JustMe on Aug 1, 2011 12:57 pm • linkreport

That one was personal. All I ever wanted to be was a REAL garbage man. Filled my sandbox with potatoe peels and plastic bottles just to practice. But Momma said I'd never make it...and she was right.

::snif::

by Ronald on Aug 1, 2011 1:01 pm • linkreport

@TGEoA

How about starting a group to advocate your own views, rather than trolling ours?

It's one thing to disagree with and debate us, but it's quite another to be diametrically opposed on every single issue.

I don't caucus with political parties that I disagree with, because that's not the appropriate venue or mechanism to have that sort of debate. I'd like for you to offer us the same kind of respect.

by andrew on Aug 1, 2011 1:04 pm • linkreport

Andrew, have you not seen TGEoA's blog? It is something.

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 1:05 pm • linkreport

@justME: I was in actuality supporting this blog and this style of information dissemination.

I pointed out that as this is a blog, and David is NOT a journalist, he is NOT required to act like a journalist as the others are saying he should. His blog is not required to get various viewpoints or to verify events or any such journalistic methods because it is NOT a newspaper.

Again, sorry you cannot see that.

by greent on Aug 1, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

Oh, and since everyone is mentioning that the NPS does have a PR guy, it's worth noting that this particular PR guy has a reputation for particularly nasty to journalists.

It's not at all shocking that David didn't see it worth his time and effort to solicit the opinion of a known antagonist.

Short of announcing a policy shift, I just don't see how the NPS's PR flack is going to add a new perspective to this conversation.

by andrew on Aug 1, 2011 1:12 pm • linkreport

arg. a reputation *for being* particularly nasty to journalists.

by andrew on Aug 1, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

@ MLD:in the last few months the comments on nearly every article turn into a meta-discussion about whether this blog is "fair" or "biased." It is extremely tiring.

Well, unless you see it as a frustrated expression of the loosing side of an argument. Or at least a sign of booboo, and few people go booboo when winning.

As for whether Alpert is a real journalist, come back when you have found some agreement on a definition of what is means to be a real journalist. Then ask David is he feels he is a real journalist. And then realize that many people in the Murdoch concern call themselves journalists and wonder again whether it matters what you call yourself.

As for giving the other side a chance to reply, I don't care. We just had a Union member waste our time with cookie cutter answers. I reckon if anybody at the NPS would feel a need to react to this article, it would be equally boring and hollow.

by Jasper on Aug 1, 2011 1:16 pm • linkreport

The last time the NPS' PR guy spoke to an urbanist issue it was borderline unintelligible. It was a lazy irrelevant rehash of the company line about Our National Heritage or something like that. That works fine for Yosemite and Yellowstone, where the Park Service has excelled at protecting pristine wildreness -- but it has nothing to do with parks in a major city. And to expect some kind time of equal time allotment from all opposing viewpoints, like GGW is some kind of Nightly News program, is beyond silly.

by aaa on Aug 1, 2011 1:17 pm • linkreport

If you talk to the oldsters in DC they'll tell you that in the 40's these parks and other Federal Reservations were used as neighborhood playgrounds. Further, in the '50's (at the time of integration) many places were fenced off.
What people are asking for today is really a return of the local NPS parks and US reservations to increased local use.
The current situation is largely an artifact of urban decay and prior racial conflict.

by drez on Aug 1, 2011 1:21 pm • linkreport

Greater Greater Washington is devoted to improving the vitality of Washington, DC and the walkable cities and neighborhoods in the Washington metropolitan area, such as Alexandria, Arlington, Bethesda, College Park, Rockville, Silver Spring, Tysons Corner, and others.

I support this mission statement. However I obviously disagree with many of the positions GGW take on how to achieve this. In the past DA has intimated that GGW is an open tent and all opinions are welcome. A system that feeds off of only positive feedback will oscilate out of control. If GGW wants to change this position, that's their right.

by TGEOA on Aug 1, 2011 1:24 pm • linkreport

Nice ad hominem David C

by TGEOA on Aug 1, 2011 1:25 pm • linkreport

Oh and another tiring trend that was absent from this blog and has been growing constantly over the last few months - the meta-modding by certain commenters. Pointing out that XYZ person has made fun of you is just annoying. I think the people deleting comments here have done a very good job at separating fun ribbing from nasty attacks.

Also, everyone needs to look up the phrase "ad hominem."

Back to the article at hand, NPS should be actively working with groups to make sure their parks get used properly but from this article and pretty much everything else we hear about them (from all news outlets) they just actively try to block everything they can. This guy was definitely a rookie at the permitting process and had trouble with some things that more experienced people might have been ready to deal with, but on some of this stuff? They wouldn't send him a copy of the permit?! If NPS requires him to pay for park police officers to be there, why aren't they doing anything?

by MLD on Aug 1, 2011 1:41 pm • linkreport

Oh jeez...here we go.

"As greent said, GGW raises awareness of issues related to this issue locally and regionally that might otherwise be difficult for its readers to find."

Thats the point. This isn't an "issue", any more than some rube wanting a permit to build a house in the District walking into DCRA without a clue and being shocked at walking out without said permit, is an issue.

This whole thing reminds me of the hipster rage on the blogosphere when those two guys recounted their story of opening a diner on H Street. The story was all "whine" and no personal accountability. They, like this Denu guy had zero idea of what they were doing, yet expected everyone to jump through their hoops on their schedule. Who knew you couldn't just buy some camper off ebay, park it somewhere in the District and open for business the next day? Golly gee...inspections, permits, zoning? Well...those just "stifle" me.

GGW used to have a voice in the process. While thats been nearly taken away at this point by this administration, I would think that GGW wouldn't want to be completely relegated to the "ignore" pile by striving not to turn into the Fox News of the blogosphere.

Pick your fights. Elevating every rubes so called story of urbanist injustice all the way to the Department of Interior or the Mayors office just guarantees that no one is going to ever listen to you.

And I agree with someone above..., "you" may want the NPS to turn over responbility of its acreage to the District, but I wouldn't want to see how quickly these places fall into complete disarray if that were the case. The NPS service has responsibility over thousands of acres of park land in the District alone, many times more than DPR currently has (900 acres). DPR does an "eh" job with the 48 million a year that it gets. It's budget would have to increase 4-5 fold to take responsibility from NPS. Good luck convincing the Mayor and Council to start eating that reacurring cost year in and out.

by freely on Aug 1, 2011 1:48 pm • linkreport

@ aaa:That works fine for Yosemite and Yellowstone, where the Park Service has excelled at protecting pristine wildreness

Correction:
That works fine for Yosemite and Yellowstone, where the Park Service has excelled at protecting building many miles of roads through pristine wildrerness. The NPS maintains more road miles than the interstate system does.

by Jasper on Aug 1, 2011 1:51 pm • linkreport

You are not a journalist.

Correct. Journalists are people with expertise in journalism but usually they have only limited subject matter expertise. Some bloggers, such as those at GGW, have plenty of technical expertise (gained through academic study or self-study) but they are not journalism specialists. Personally, I'd much rather read someone who has deeply studied and thought about an issue than a journalist who's more committed to writing snazzy copy at the 9th grade reading level than intellectual discourse.

Also, if you read any journalists who also happen to be subject matter experts, such as the folks at The Economist or columnists on the op-ed page of major newspapers, they make no particular effort to present a balanced view point. In fact, their renown comes from delivering a well-argued point of view.

Let's give the NPS parks to DC? Gee, DC does such a great job maintaining the parks and other facilities already under its control, so let's give it more to do.

Have you seen what's been going on in the DC park system since Fenty's admin? Many DC parks have been renovated to a high end and new ones are breaking ground. These parks are ridiculously nice such as the soccer field at Columbia Heights that has the same kind of high-end astroturf that you see at NFL stadiums. In fact, DC parks have been renovated to a fault, causing some old-timers like Kwame Brown's father to say that the newcomers are more interested in renovated dog parks than their neighbors.

by Falls Church on Aug 1, 2011 2:00 pm • linkreport

@TGEoA

As MLD wrote:
"everyone needs to look up the phrase 'ad hominem.'"

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

@Jasper,

Any link for that or did you just make it up.

Last count as of 2006, the US Interstate Highway System had ~47,000 miles of roads. The NPS maintains 8,500 miles of roads.

Not even close

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Park_Service

by freely on Aug 1, 2011 2:02 pm • linkreport

This blog is great. But it could be GREATER.

According to godaddy.com:

"greatergreatergreaterwashington.com is available! Just $11.99*/yr"

It'll be just like the H Street rivalry between "Danny's" and "Good Danny's"...

by oboe on Aug 1, 2011 2:06 pm • linkreport

freely,

What makes you think this guy is a rube? He sounds pretty sophisticated to me. I challenge you to pull off an event of that scale.

All of your other points are crazy when compared to the actual details of the story. The Park police who did nothing, the permit that came the day of, the last minute requirement for insurance, the refusal to read the plan, the refusal to allow DeNu to repair the flower beds on his own, etc...

But why worry about the facts (like the diner not being on H Street - it's on Bladensburg Road) when it's so fun to call people rubes.

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

@Jasper, The NPS maintains more road miles than the interstate system does. -- are you sure?

This says, "The NPS is responsible for approximately 5,450 paved miles of public park roads, 6,544 miles of unpaved roads, the equivalent of 948 paved miles of parking areas, and 1,679 structures such as bridges, culverts, and tunnels."

And Wikipedia (for what that's worth) says that the interstate highway system had 46,876 miles in 2006.

Maybe you're thinking of Bill Bryson's claim about the National Forest Service in A Walk in the Woods? Although I would want to fact-check that claim too.

by Miriam on Aug 1, 2011 2:10 pm • linkreport

Jasper -- Not to get on a tangent, but Yosemite is 95% designated wilderness. That's not too shabby. It may have been different 50 years ago, but nowadays it's almost impossible to build new roads without a certain amount of controversy or litigation. Moreover, the NPS has worked to close roads too, which often pits them against locals and four-wheel drive brigades who demand unlimited motorized access. For comparison sake, look at the sad state of some of the popular outdoor areas overseas, which are no where near as well taken care of.

by aaa on Aug 1, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

@David Alpert

I would have like to see some response from NPS as well. Both so we might be able to think of solutions to their legitimate concerns (assuming they have any) and so you could point out their bogus excuses.

by Steven Yates on Aug 1, 2011 2:20 pm • linkreport

@David C

1. What makes him sound like a rube? Easy: "DeNu says he sat down with NPS officials AFTER he and the other organizers spent considerable time crafting a detailed plan for the event".

His first phone call should have been to the NPS, not his last. Oh, and the thought never having crossed his mind that one might need some little thing like "insurance".

Considering you, and everyone else here has an internet connection, I am a little surprised you didn't google NPS Permits. It would have taken you to this page (below) which lists all the rules and regs required. These permitting regs are updated with some frequency, but they have been here for years.

http://www.nps.gov/nama/planyourvisit/permits.htm

Actaully, I am not surprised. As is standard, you've taken his side of the story to be gospel, that everything happened exactly as he indicated. I am "sure" that the Park Police sat completely immobile in their cars all day and didn't move at all.

Grrrr...those big meanies at the NPS who hate urbanists!

by freely on Aug 1, 2011 2:26 pm • linkreport

I am a REAL journalist, but I love to read this blog because I think it is a great example of where journalism is going. WaPo can't cover all the issues that show up on GGW on a daily basis, so as a niche publication geared at a very specific audience, GGW does an excellent job producing insightful content that has become incredibly relevant to this city.

You'll also notice, just like a newspaper, some articles have opinions and others do not. More often than not, DA's writings are the more column-like material here. It's all part of the mix, same as you would see from WaPo or NYT.

True, the writing isn't as sharp as what you'd see in some professional organizations, but it's a team on non-profit bloggers who mostly have day jobs, families and a life. They do more for urbanist thinking than I do and until I pick up that burden, I don't think I'm able to throw many stones.

Well done, everyone at GGW.

by Alex on Aug 1, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

@Miriam is probably right that @Jasper confused the National Park Service with the National Forest Service. As of 2001 (more current information not available since the Forest Service's Road Management division hasn't updated its website's public document area since January 2002), the Forest Service operated 372,956 miles of roadway. Over 86,000 miles of that total were engineered to be readily accessible to passenger vehicles.

by cminus on Aug 1, 2011 2:31 pm • linkreport

@ Miriam (and others):Maybe you're thinking of Bill Bryson's claim about the National Forest Service in A Walk in the Woods? Although I would want to fact-check that claim too.

I may have mixed up the forest service and the park service. But I looked the latter up and posted that link here in the comments. Can't find it now in the short time I have.

by Jasper on Aug 1, 2011 2:36 pm • linkreport

Alex +1 from another real journalist.

by Brad on Aug 1, 2011 2:53 pm • linkreport

@ Miriam (and others):Maybe you're thinking of Bill Bryson's claim about the National Forest Service in A Walk in the Woods? Although I would want to fact-check that claim too.

I may have mixed up the forest service and the park service. But I looked the latter up and posted that link here in the comments. Can't find it now in the short time I have.

@aaa:For comparison sake, look at the sad state of some of the popular outdoor areas overseas, which are no where near as well taken care of.

Ehm, well, that depends. If you like your trees nicely lined up in a perfect grid, go to Dutch forests :-S

The NPS is one of the great assets of the USA. Some of the parks are larger than my country. But the way the organization works, is not good.

And as a side note, it would be nice to merge all the conservancy organizations within the federal government. NPS, NPF, NFWS, perhaps even the Smithsonian (after all, they conserve history).

by Jasper on Aug 1, 2011 2:59 pm • linkreport

@Bob I'm not sure why you worry more about moving motor vehicle traffic through Dupont Circle than accommodating foot traffic and activating its use by people.

Yes, DC should run DC green spaces. I will take MPD over the Park Police ANY DAY. I will take DC Department of Parks and Rec over National Park Service ANY DAY. MPD and DPR do a pretty good job and at least they know the community. My DPR rec center director knows everyone who comes to the rec center and fosters its use for the community.

National Park Service is obsessed with preserving their concessions contracts and helping people enjoy the lands from behind a car windshield.

Trash pickup is Department of Public Works. Call 311 if you see any park trash cans not being picked up. I do. And I call 911 and get MPD if there is illegal activity. They respond and they send their officers to community meetings, unlike the Park Police.

by Ward 1 Guy on Aug 1, 2011 3:02 pm • linkreport

@ Steven Yates

Yeah dude. Re: CaBi, I really liked how Alpert did this one:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/11344/park-service-says-no-bike-sharing-on-national-mall/

When Line gets to shoot any responses, it seems like it's almost always into his foot.

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2010/10/19/give-that-man-a-role-on-the-daily-show/

And sometimes comes across as a vicious job-killing jerk

http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/dc/2011/07/pedicab-problems-escalate-national-mall

But sometimes he has legitimate problems with applicants

http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/housingcomplex/2011/04/04/sorry-virginia-the-park-service-doesnt-love-you-back/

Or is fettered by jurisdictional boundaries, which may shine a light on the NPS v. MPD cop car-gate during the soccer match

http://www.expressnightout.com/content/2008/01/rat_jumps_into_baby_stroller_in_dupont_c.php

Understanding NPS' point of view can only help to (1) demonstrate just how out of touch their strategy is with urbanist concerns, and (2) illuminate the specific fault lines (e.g., unclear jurisdictional responsibilities) that create the greatest friction. From those two things derive motivation and solution, respectively.

(Props to Kytja Weir, Lydia DePillis, Michael Grass)

by Ronald on Aug 1, 2011 3:05 pm • linkreport

Can I ask sort of a silly hypothetical question. What would happen if the city just assumed control over this sort of thing and started issuing permits, working with community groups and using MPD for crowd issues? I mean, could the park police really move a few thousand people off the circle if there were MPD there maintaining the peace? As for beautifying the small parks, why not just do it? The city could just do it, and be like, op, its nicer now. What would happen then?

by DAJ on Aug 1, 2011 3:19 pm • linkreport

David C

TGEoA has a blog?

by thump on Aug 1, 2011 3:24 pm • linkreport

@DAJ

This sort of happened when DCRA issued permits for food trucks to operate curbside without NPS input. Understandably, neither agency has to inform the other of its activities, but the lack of communication led to awkward encounters between Park Police and MPD.

http://dcist.com/2011/03/food_trucks_confronted_by_park_poli.php

This seemed to be less a case of NPS being mean, and more an example of the inevitable pain of having too many police departments owning jurisdictional authority inside the District and operating with insufficient coordination.

by Ronald on Aug 1, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

What would happen if the city just assumed control over this sort of thing and started issuing permits, working with community groups and using MPD for crowd issues?

My guess is that Congress would threaten to cut DC's budget, the DOJ would sue the city, and the National Guard would be mobilized to regain control. If there's something the Feds don't like, it's having their power questioned by locals.

by Falls Church on Aug 1, 2011 3:49 pm • linkreport

Let's write and Eleanor Holmes Norton's office and work with her in getting all the Circles turned over to the District of Columbia people. (only one exception...Columbus Circle at Union Station) Eleanor has been in the past successful if getting the land ownership titles transfered on other federal lands to the City. What is "amusing"....the city owns the land UNDER Dupont but not over it. Don't know if that is the case of the tunnels under Thomas and Scott Circles. Let the Park Service concentrate on the Mall and Rock Creek.

by DC John on Aug 1, 2011 4:02 pm • linkreport

@freely,

His first phone call should have been to the NPS, not his last.

Really? You think he should have called NPS and told them he wanted to have an event, without any idea of how it would work, how it would be paid for, what equipment would be needed or where it would come from, without buy-in from the ANC or Mayor - and that if he had that would have made the process go SMOOTHER? That's insane. Why don't you give that a try and tell me how it works. You already have the link.

And NPS was not his last phone call. It was in the middle. Clearly he made dozens of phone calls after that. It was early in the process as "he was hoping for honest feedback and a genuine interest in collaboration to figure out how to make the event work." So he was talking to them early.

He was able to sell this idea to the ANC, Jack Evans, the Mayor and eventually - yes - NPS. That's not a rube. Have you ever done anything like that? Anything?

Oh, and the thought never having crossed his mind that one might need some little thing like "insurance".

It's not in any of the permitting info you linked to, and NPS had plenty of time to tell him about it. But no, insurance to show a soccer game on a TV screen is a bit over the top frankly.

I'm aware of permitting regs. I've read them before, so I didn't look them up this time. Other than to show that you google something, is there a point to your link? DeNu knew of them too, that's why he had the meeting with NPS.

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 5:26 pm • linkreport


TGEoA has a blog?

How can one have a blog when they've got nothing to say?

by Bob See on Aug 1, 2011 5:59 pm • linkreport

http://arlingtondirt.blogspot.com/

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 6:03 pm • linkreport

@ Ward 1 Guy:

I don't think that Dupont Circle, which is pretty busy any time of day or evening, needs much to "activate its use." My point was that there are undoubtedly better venues than cramming thousands of people into what was designed as a circle park. And, yes, having thousands of people cross all that traffic might be unsafe -- for them. That doesn't mean that I care more for vehicles than pedestrians. Of course, you can wish away the fact that DuPont Circle is the transfer point for several arterial roads at the northwestern side of DC's business district, but hey, that's a detail.

Oh, and how would you pay for the added costs to DC from taking over all of the Federal parkland? Wait, I've got it: get rid to the height limit and all of those tall buildings will make up the revenue. Right on!

by Bob on Aug 1, 2011 6:21 pm • linkreport

The Grand Emperor...what a magnificent title!

A legend in his own mind. Master of all he surveys. The grand high poo-bah of hyperbole. Ladies and gentlemen...TGEoA!

by thump on Aug 1, 2011 6:42 pm • linkreport

I have removed a comment by Bob See for using effensive language, even though in a quotation.

by David Alpert on Aug 1, 2011 8:10 pm • linkreport

I no longer endorse this site.

by Bob See on Aug 1, 2011 8:13 pm • linkreport

@David C,

Question: You're 16 and want to throw a party at your parents house. What do you do first, set the invite list, spend gobs of time "extensively" planning the party,order the food or do you go and ask your parents if you are allowed first and see what the rules are? Yeah, thought so.

No mention of insurance? Ya sure? Dude, you aren't even trying. I post the links to the direct documents and you still bury your head in the sand, refuse to read them and still claim its all a conspiracy.

My link above, second document from the bottom titled "Requirements for Special Events on Parkland", Pg 10 of 14 titled "Liability Insurance".

It took me all of 7 minutes to read all the documents on that page, something despite your claims its clear you didn't even do and something Denu obviously didn't do.

Keep swinging at those windmills though...its fun to watch you try.

by freely on Aug 1, 2011 8:36 pm • linkreport

@thump

Got a chip on your shoulder?

by TGEOA on Aug 1, 2011 9:31 pm • linkreport

As a former employee of the NPS, it was always fairly clear within the agency that what the areas administered by the NPS in DC needed "general management plans". Most other areas in the NPS have them and they help determine what uses are appropriate. Previous planning administrators in the NPS National Capital Region (NCR) objected to developing management plans in DC in order to provide maximum ability to horse trade with the city and other entities (NCPC, Fine Arts), and to re-direct monuments and memorials to other "vacant" park locations. If management plans were developed for the areas in DC the plans would spell out what suitable uses could take place. The planning process would also require public involvement and a more visible decision making process. The NPS would have less opportunity for abitrary action, and the public would have more opportunity to help define uses for areas that have both local uses and, in some cases, national significance. Absent site specific plans for the areas, the only thing that the NPS has to guide it are the general regulations applicable to all of the areas it administers. So parks in DC do indeed end up being administered like Yellowstone or Yosemite. But if the park specific plans for DC said otherwise, then they would be administered according to the park specific plans/regulations. The NPS has some pretty extensive areas that it administers in urban settings (Golden Gate NRA in San Francisco, Gateway NRA in New York, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, etc.)so it has the experience and expertise to manage parks under its responsibility in DC. Pressure does need to be applied on the NPS and the Secretary to develop plans for the park areas--just like it has for other urban parks.

by Old Park Guy on Aug 1, 2011 9:33 pm • linkreport

You're 16 and want to throw a party at your parents house.

This is a terrible analogy for starters, because my parents home is a dictatorship. The Park Service works for me. And it was framed badly making it worse - you only give two extreme answers. What I don't do is go to my parents and say I want to have a party without having done a lick of planning.

How many people will you invite?

I dunno.

Who will you invite?

I dunno.

When? What time?

I dunno.

That is not likely to result in a yes.

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 10:23 pm • linkreport

On the subject of insurance:

"Depending on the size and scope of the proposed event, and the filing status of the applicant or organization, the following will apply as conditions of the permit...[buy insurance]"

So the organizers only knew that they might need insurance, based on a judgement by NPS of which they were not made aware until the last minute.

Also, you need to go to the shop and ask them to turn your arrogance down a notch. There is no greater sign of arrogance issues then answering your own question with "Yeah, thought so." You're starting to sound like nookie now.

by David C on Aug 1, 2011 10:26 pm • linkreport

The proper office for handling complaints in the Department of the Interior is the Inspector General: www.DOIOIG.gov

To file the complaint, you'll want to address it as a violation of standing NPS Director's Order: http://www.nps.gov/applications/npspolicy/DOrders.cfm
I'd start with DO-53, "Special Park Uses"

by smoke_jaguar4 on Aug 1, 2011 10:51 pm • linkreport

Rules? What a concept!

by Karl on Aug 2, 2011 7:33 am • linkreport

@David C "The Park Service works for me.

It does? And all this while I thought it worked for the American people ... hmmm ... Can I get a free pass to Yellowstone please?

Btw,does Obama work for you too? Why didn't you just order him to settle this budget thing months ago instead of waiting till the last minute? Oh ... you mean he has other constituents to answer to? And maybe has to balance every American's needs and desires ... ?

I think you're giving a good example of the real problem with what I'm seeing with some people who like to call themselves smartgrowthers or urbanites. They think they and they alone own the title. They forget that there are divergent views on what 'doing the right thing' for any given cause or issue. And finding a consensus amonng all stakeholders via established rules is the first step in the process of any advocacy within a democratic context. Of course, if you really were raised in a dictotorship, that may be a difficult concept to understand of buy into.

by Lance on Aug 2, 2011 8:27 am • linkreport

Lance,

I didn't say they worked for me AND ONLY ME. Don't be obtuse. You're wasting everyone's time.

by David C on Aug 2, 2011 9:12 am • linkreport

DAl, considering that there have been a few times when I've defended you against attacks and mostly always speak out against the idea of making rash judgements absent facts, it's unfortunate that you feel as if I'm only here to cast aspersions. It's an unfair attack that is IMO not supported by facts.

Where I criticize you is when you don't present the facts to justify your claims and as I just learned this am - your readers don't expect you to. That's a philosophical difference, I get it.

As someone mentioned earlier, you now occupy a different space here in DC and (since you represent ALL of DC) what you write should reflect the truth so that we are most informed of the facts. If pointing out when those facts are missing is what led you to the clearly wrong assumption that I'm only here to antagonize, then we'll just disagree on my purpose.

This article is consistent with those that has painted the NPS as satans best friend. I have read and found more information about NPS than I ever have and if I were to believe what your angle consistently suggests, nothing about NPS is good. Does the rest of DC benefit from these sort of depictions? Does it advance the ball?

IMO, you don't like criticism of the way you choose to communicate issues to the public - namely "us." Of course I don't expect anyone to write w/o an angle. I do expect them to be truthful. If you haven't noticed, I am highly critical of all media that operates in constant spin cycle. GGW is no exception.

I was blasted for thinking that metro management (not the union) is responsible for their employees' poor customer service record. That was my opinion. Yet, the attacks from the "regulars" were that I enjoy a life of subpar performance from elected officials...or that I've never held a job.

As members of the public, it's in our best interest not to take every story at face value. We should (and do) question the reporting. Contrary to what some here believe, this is more than a blog. It's political advocacy. You operate in a different space and considering the tone you advocate for here, it seems more than reasonable to expect more responsible "reporting."

The people sitting at the back of the church need to hear you as well. Ken wrote an article about it.

by HogWash on Aug 2, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

@Oldparkguy, excellent commentary.

I wonder whether anyone from this community has suggested that and if not, why.

Seems reasonable to me.

by HogWash on Aug 2, 2011 9:55 am • linkreport

Is it too much to ask that any of the several detractors on these threads who believe that GGW should have contacted NPS, go and do that and report back to the group?

If, as so many of you assert, you are all validly airing your concerns here, why aren't you just doing what you believe should be done to rebut the view of the article? It's been pointed out repeatedly that GGW is a blog. The substantive portion of the blog is largely the comments section. You have a golden opportunity to add to this discussion what you believe is missing from it.

You could even (gasp!) shape public policy through your actions!

Instead of trolling.

My suspicion is that you don't want or care for the NPS view. You simply threw several critiques at the wall to see what might stick.

FWIW, this article could have been better with some input from the NPS, but at David said, it was one more thing that GGW had neither the time, inclination, or certainly, the obligation, to provide.

by CJ on Aug 2, 2011 10:17 am • linkreport

@Hogwash

From the article: This is one of the many reasons the Park Service needs to develop separate procedures for events in urban parks. Or, better yet, they could encourage local Parks Conservancy organizations, as New York has, that handle much of the day-to-day administration and maintenance in the parks.

um, yeah, someone has already suggested that NPS develop separate guidelines for urban parks.

by CJ on Aug 2, 2011 10:20 am • linkreport

Based on most of the comments, it's kinda hard to remember what this article was about.

by Fritz on Aug 2, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

@Old Park Guy

Thanks for the background info. Does NPS have regional planning agreements in place with St. Louis, SF, etc. that could serve as models for an NCR planning effort? If so, can you link them?

by Ronald on Aug 2, 2011 12:03 pm • linkreport

Dupont Circle Small Area Plan-DC Office of Planning as follows:
Clear all trees, remove benches and chess tables, dismantle fountain to E.I. Dupont, stored at GSA facility..
Massive curb to curb, Mixed-use Developenmt. consistent with "Smart Growth" maximum density at Metro. Curb to curb max, 9 stories. To include 50 ft by 30 ft. greenspace , paved with brick pavers and memorial to common sense,lovcated with in locked private corporate courtyard. Move all activities, festivals, hook ups gay and straight, bike messenger pot parties, etc. to parking lot behind PNC Bank corner Mass. Ave. and 19th St. NW.
Small Area Plan based on 18 months of extensive community input through series of orchestrated, manipulative community input charade put on by DC Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning and Emporer Adrienne Fenty, DC City Council. Coming atrocities----------Logan circle to be "redeveloped" next, Chevy Chase Circle , remove all trees, build paved plaza with benches Brookland-CUA Metro, remove all trees, redevelope curb to curb, plaza with pavers, etc., etc.One , hot, denuded, overbuilt, dense, uncomfortable, congested, polluted, dirty city. Thakyou Office of "Planning" you have made you and DDOT have made mark on DC and it is horrendous.

by Daniel Wolkoff on Aug 2, 2011 12:29 pm • linkreport

Lance, this is the problem, isn't it? You have an agency with a national constituency inappropriately assigned to manage a local, downtown park area.

No, I don't really want "community input" from "stakeholders" from a diverse committee of interests of guys from Kansas creating NPS policy for Dupont Circle permitting. What's wrong with you? Are you just trolling, or what? Your behavior is knee-jerk hostile to any reasonable requests for more appropriate handling of local issues, to the point where this forum seems like a chance for you to vent at city dwellers whom you seem to have personal problems with, rather than making a positive contribution to society.

by JustMe on Aug 2, 2011 1:32 pm • linkreport

Thanks, Old Guy, for the perspective and (IMO) solid suggestions.

by drez on Aug 2, 2011 3:44 pm • linkreport

@JustMe, I guess no one told you that Dupont Circle is not a local park but rather a national park? It is an integral part of what makes the national capital the national capital. Think about that before you answer rashly. And read Daniel's post above. It'll help you understand why the feds would have to be crazy to ever give up control of Dupont Circle. Step back for a minute and pretend we're talking about Lincoln Square on Capital Hill. I bet the people who live near it consider it a local neighborhood park in the same way we tend to consider Dupont Circle a local neighborhood park. So, what if based on it being a local neighborhood park they decided to put a fence around it and allowed only people who lived nearby to use it. Or better yet, they decided that they needed more parking and this park paved over would be the perfect place to put that parking. They'd not be required to have any concern about you ... much less the nation's interests in keeping a capital we can be proud of.

by Lance on Aug 2, 2011 11:06 pm • linkreport

[ridiculous strawman/FUD deleted by filter]

by Daniel Wolkoff on Aug 2, 2011 12:29 pm

[ridiculous strawman/FUD deleted by filter]

by Lance on Aug 2, 2011 11:06 pm

Hey, anybody else wanna try my new greasemonkey extension?

by jack lecou on Aug 4, 2011 1:01 pm • linkreport

The insanity here is that such arcane rules exist at all for a small area such as Dupont Circle. Alert to NPS: You work for us...we don't work for you. Issues or events such as this should not have to deal with layers of oversight...nor even NPS cops for crying out loud. More reason to cut back on government and return more to localities. Sheezzzz. How absurd.

by Pelham1861 on Aug 5, 2011 12:52 pm • linkreport

There is one big problem with the idea of having these federally controlled parks revert to DC. Proper planning in DC is non existant. The Office of Planning doesn't do urban planning. Their misson statement is to "support development"and now they have the MUMBO_JUMBO of "Smart Growth" to distrt the land grab.
Example,,the district govt. was offered The McMillan Sand Filtration Plant in the 1980's for free by Dept. of Interior, with the stipulation that it would be park land. DC refused to be restricted, spent 9 million dollars and left the 25 acre central DC park land to deteriorate for almost 30 years, they wasted $250,000.00 a year on lawn mowing.
The govt. has wasted so much money on it's excessive crap all over the place,, they only see these precious public properties as cash cows. They refuse to see any dev. plan on Mcmillan that preserves the park and the fascinating historic structures of sand filtration from the 1880's. Even though the underground galleries and submerged Tiber Creek make massive developemnt structurally impossible. When Prof. Gusevich of CUA proposed a world class adaptive reuse, including an undergound City Market, she was blocked from community meetings and threatened by city officials to BACK OFF!
McMillan should be the park , enjoyed by DC residents for decades, before the district govt. destroyed it.
McMillan is "A GREAT PLACE", with gorgeous views and sunsets, cool breezes, and TREES. In 1906 the McMillan Senate Parks Commission planned an Emerald Necklace of greenspace and wooded trails for dc residents health and recreation. The systm would stretch around the entire city. Why do residents of NW have Rock Creek Park to enjoy and in NE we have nothing? McMillan needs to become a Glen Echo style Arts/Cultural and recreation park for the district... And connected to adjacent parks with trails before there is not a single inch of natural land left in our section of DC. Why the preffered section of the city and the dumped on section? Smart Growth is going to be comfortable and green, not a huge congestion of overbuilt "mixed use".
The old convention center was torn down downtown and was the perfect place to add a large comfortable shady park for office workers and visitors to cool off, instead of being crammed into Farragut, or Mcpherson squares. Go to Manhattan, the most expensive realestate in the world and enjoy numerous shady, comfortable parks right in the downtown areas.
We are allowing a clique of City Council hacks, thouroughly jaded and driven like they have a large stick up their ass, to make the wrong decisions about our land use.About 23 people make all the decisions about our land, never a referendum, no constituent assembly. This clique thing has to change too. We have run out of land and they are rewriting the zoning to make their voice the only one in this decisionmaking process, even the patronizing, manipulated so-called "community input(a bad joke) will be ended, as they use up everything remaining in their drive to keep the dev. machine going full blast. Don't support the insane amount of overbuliding this inbred, corrupt , scandal ridden, criminal, city council has in their distorted sights. Parks are Development!

by Daniel Wolkoff on Aug 5, 2011 6:44 pm • linkreport

@Bob -I disagree with your statement that DC Parks are badly run. I use DC parks multiple times per week year round (mostly indoor and outdoor swimming pools all over the city) and I find them generally well maintained and professionally run.

The city would need money of course to take over the NPS small parks. Where would it come from?

I highly value the NPS's stewardship of wild places and their role as a liason between the public and the wild places; and I know NPS is perpetually underfunded for this mission. I would hate to see NPS put in a position of turning over some of its meagre budget to DC for maintainence of small parks. To avoid that, as Old Park Guy intimates, NPS could plan and act differently re the small parks and community in DC.

I know the NPS uses volunteers in its wild places for trail maintainence, tree planting and other labors of love. There's no reason relationships like that couldn't be developed for such things as the flower gardens at Dupont Cir and Malcolm X parks.

by Tina on Aug 8, 2011 4:18 pm • linkreport

Daniel-

I don't know enough about the McMillan situation to comment in detail, but it's largely irrelevant. There's an obvious and crucial difference between a situation like that - transitioning from one longstanding use to a whole new one, and therefore has no established institutional or community expectations - and a place like Dupont Circle, which has been a park and a community focal point for as long as anyone can remember.

We can debate whether or not DC or NPS could do a better job of tending the flower beds and issuing event permits and so forth, but that is the reasonable limit of the debate. As bad as DC government might be, there is simply zero chance that a mere jurisdictional change would somehow cause or allow it to start treating Dupont Circle like some kind of funny-shaped vacant lot ripe for a new crop of condos.

To suggest otherwise is going beyond hyperbole and venturing far into the ridiculous zone.

by jack lecou on Aug 10, 2011 8:00 am • linkreport

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