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Events roundup: What do you want to tell the Park Service?

Do you have feedback for the National Park Service? For Arlington about transit or cycletracks? For Alexandria about a street in Del Rey Ray? Weigh in this week, plus a history lesson about the waterfront and walking tours all over the region.

Photo by Park Ranger on Flickr.

Town hall with NPS: Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is convening a town hall meeting with leaders of the National Park Service in our region to talk about how they are managing many of DC's parks, large and small.

David Alpert will participate on the panel, along with NPS National Capital Region Director Steve Whitesell, Richard Bradley from the Downtown BID, and Greg Odell of Events DC. The discussion is Wednesday, May 21, 6:30-8:30 in Room 412 of the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

What topics should David bring up? Post your qualms, frustrations, plaudits, and questions in the comments.

Arlington Transit forum: Give Arlington's government your input on transit service at a public meeting from 7-9 pm tonight, Monday, May 19 at the Arlington Mill Community Center, 909 South Dinwiddie Street. If you can't make it, you can take an online survey to give your feedback.

Monroe Avenue, a complete street: Alexandria wants to redesign Monroe Avenue in Del Ray to calm traffic and better accommodate bicyclists. Officials will present options and hear from residents on Tuesday, May 20 (tomorrow), 6-8 pm at Commonwealth Academy on Leslie Avenue.

South Eads Street cycletrack: What should bike lanes, cycletracks, or other infrastructure look like on South Eads Street in Arlington? The county will be building a pilot cycletrack on a part of South Eads, and wants your feedback on the long-term plans for the road. Speak up on Wednesday, May 21 from 7-8:30 at the Aurora Hills Community Center, 735 18th Street South, or take the online survey.

History of the DC waterfront: Ever wonder about the early days of the DC Waterfront? The DC Library is hosting a book talk with author John R. Wennersten on his new book, The Historic Waterfront of Washington, DC. He will discuss the history of the area and the current issues facing the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The talk is Wednesday, May 21 at 6:30 pm in the Black Studies Center at the MLK Memorial Library (901 G Street NW).

Search for the W&OD in Alexandria: Join the VeloCity Bike Co-op for a community bike ride in search of the remnants of the Washington and Old Dominion railroad in Alexandria. Hear about some area history and envision future uses for the space. The ride will begin at the VeloCity Co-op (2111 Mount Vernon Ave in Alexandria) at 10 am on Saturday, May 24.

MoCo candidates on transportation: Maryland is having a primary election on June 24, and in many races the primary will be the deciding contest. A group of smart growth, transit, bicycling, and other organizations are sponsoring a forum for candidates for Montgomery County Council.

WAMU's Martin Di Caro will moderate the forum, and you can submit questions online ahead of time. The candidates will face off on Thursday, May 29 from 7-9 pm at the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place in downtown Silver Spring.

CSG walking tours: The Coalition for Smarter Growth is leading two more Saturday walking tours in the coming weeks. Come hear about the past and future of Pentagon City, on May 31, and H Street NE, on June 7, while enjoying some spring sunshine.

  • Saturday, May 31: come hear about how recent development projects are transforming Pentagon City into a community that is more than a mall.
  • Saturday, June 7: explore H Street NE and learn about one of DC's most rapidly changing neighborhoods. Plus, get the scoop on the latest addition to the community: the DC Streetcar.
All of the CSG walking tours run from 10-noon. These events fill up quickly, so RSVP to secure a spot!

Do you know an event that should be on the Greater Greater Washington calendar? Contact with the details and a link to a page on the web which has more information.

Andrew Watson is an economic consultant with an interest in urban planning and engineering design. He lives in Woodley Park. 


Add a comment »

Add: Oakville Triangle Community Meeting #2 on 5/20

Naturally this overlaps with the Monroe Ave. meeting.

by movement on May 19, 2014 2:40 pm • linkreport

We have organized a meeting with DDOT at the Northeast Library that night (5/21 @ 6:30) to talk about the City's delays in implementing its Maryland Avenue Pedestrian Safety Project ( Otherwise, I'd certainly attend. Please pass on the message that folks who wanted to attend couldn't due to scheduling issues.

by Todd on May 19, 2014 2:44 pm • linkreport


I know that the site has talked about various things NPS could do to make its DC spaces a little more urban-friendly, things like varied vendors, CABI, etc.

My question is, if NPS has considered these things as well, where have they looked for cases of best practices? Nation-wide? World-Wide?

A separate but related question: I think the Independence Mall in Philadelphia has a lot of great lessons for our Mall here. Things like a central visitor's center, varied vendors (again) and a feeling (to me at least) that the Mall in Philadelphia "blends" better with the city. What lessons can we specifically learn from our friends in Pennsylvania?

by drumz on May 19, 2014 2:53 pm • linkreport

David--- one issue for the National Park Service is to get NPS to charge for parking around the perimeter of its park land. The decision to add parking meters around the Mall received attention earlier this year but some of the curbside space abutting National Park Service land, including Glover Archibald Park and Fort Reno have been either unzoned or unmetered. As you've noted on this blog, this undermines transit ridership and walking/biking and encourages more driving.

by 202_Cyclist on May 19, 2014 2:59 pm • linkreport

Roosevelt Island should have a long term plan for transportation connections focused on active transportation. For me, it's a no brainer connection for a bike / ped bridge to Georgetown. They'd also have to fix the Rosslyn side of things. I don't really use Key Bridge but I understand it sees a lot of traffic and if we plan to grow bike and walking trips we need more capacity.

by BTA on May 19, 2014 3:07 pm • linkreport

What is the NPS doing to move forward on the Fort Circle Parks plan? Fort Totten and Slocum and the surrounding green space is managed as part of RCP, but get basically no attention other than the occasional mowing and trash pickup.

There's been talk for years about creating pedestrian/cycling connections, but almost nothing's been done. Barnard Hill all the way to Ft. Slocum already has connecting green space, it just needs the trail to be made.

by Steve on May 19, 2014 3:18 pm • linkreport

NPS, it's nice that you made it safer to cross from the Mt. Vernon trail to Memorial Bridge, but it's time to put signs up so everyone uses the crossing instead of following dirt "social trails" or making up their own.

I rescued a family of French tourists from certain doom last week who were about to cross on a dirt trail at a dangerous spot.

Signs at each "social trail" directing people to the crosswalk south of the bridge, and signs at the Lincoln Memorial end of the bridge directing people to cross the bridge on the southern side so they can access the crosswalk, would make things even safer. Thanks.

by bicyclist on May 19, 2014 3:19 pm • linkreport

One question for NPS officials is about bathroom and drinking fountain accessibility along some of the running trails they oversee. For example, there are no public toilets or drinking fountains in Rock Creek south of Pierce Mill or (any?) along the Mt. Vernon Trail...I think there is 1 bathroom in Anacostia Park near Penn Ave but no drinking fountains, and the only toilet along the C&O and CCT is at Fletcher's. For people out on long runs and bike rides having basic facilities (even pit latrines) would be a big help.

by NGeo on May 19, 2014 3:20 pm • linkreport

Shouldn't NPS be looking at repairing the Bike Path on Rock Creek Park? It's in pretty rough shape.

by KingmanPark on May 19, 2014 3:22 pm • linkreport

The issue of bike infrastructure in the national parks will surely come up. I hope the focus isn't solely on Rock Creek Park, though that certainly needs to be addressed. What's the status of the Fort Circle trail in NE/NW, for example?

by AKDC on May 19, 2014 3:24 pm • linkreport

Maintenance!! I am constantly surprised by the poor maintenance condition of our parks. Poor sidewalk conditions, crumbling sidewalks (the fountain park between the Capitol and Union Station - or is the AOC?) temporary maintenance barriers kept in place way too long (I.e. Franklin Park). Poor trash pickup abounds, especially on weekends. Also, why is the Jefferson Memorial STILL surrounded by jersey walls? Come on! Give Jefferson something prettier. Basically, we've got a lot of great parks, but before we add new amenities we need to maintain what we have!

by Alex on May 19, 2014 3:26 pm • linkreport

Some NPS leadership (or at least constructive followership) would be helpful on several key bike connections. A proper bike connection from 15th Street down past the Jefferson Memorial to the 14th Street Bridge. A proper connection of Met Branch in the Fort Totten area. Leadership please! Or else please follow, or get out of the way.

And please feel free to close the parkways from time to time (Sundays? Saturdays?) for non-motorized traffic. They're supposed to be parkways, after all, not speedways.

NPS seems so incredibly car centric -- it's very strange given the preservation mission.

by Greenbelt on May 19, 2014 3:32 pm • linkreport

I'd also like to see bike lanes on Madison and Jefferson Drives.

by 202_Cyclist on May 19, 2014 3:47 pm • linkreport

If we wanna talk Rock Creek, this is my personal pet peeve . Given the way cars drive down Rock Creek that little sidewalk basically consitutes all the ped and bike facilities on this bridge. It's absurd for the amount of traffic it gets. There should be at least a bike lane along that stretch or something.

by BTA on May 19, 2014 3:54 pm • linkreport

I'd like to see the NPS collaborate with the USDA - headquartered directly on the Mall - and industry on the development of an extremely hardy strain of grass for use in high intensity-use park areas, such as the Mall. Even in many areas of the Mall that look green, if you see them up close it's anything except grass that's actually growing there. If it worked out, this could be something useful in parks nationally, not to mention world-wide.

by Planner on May 19, 2014 4:20 pm • linkreport

As others have noted, some sort of progress on the various trail projects would be nice (Met Branch and Rock Creek Trail especially).

@NGeo - there are bathrooms in the zoo, close to the lower entrance and thus accessible to the trail (yes, it's not always open). South of the zoo I don't know that there is any space where they could place a building. Water should be do-able though. There are water and bathrooms available at Thompsons Boathouse, at the southern terminus of the Rock Creek Tr.

On the towpath there is a bathroom near mile marker 5 or 6, but the last time I was there it was closed. Further out there are bathrooms at each of the campgrounds along the towpath (roughly every 5-8 miles I think). Plus at Carderock, Anglers Inn, Great Falls, and at a few of the old lock houses.

On the Mt. Vernon trail - there are bathrooms on Roosevelt Island, though they are not super close to the trail. There are also bathrooms at the marina by LBJ grove (take the new trail under the Humpback Bridge), and at Belle Haven, and at Ft. Hunt. There are usually porta-potties available at Gravelly Pt. I agree that more would be nice.

by John on May 19, 2014 4:37 pm • linkreport

Specific whines:
1. How about a large group of us were involved in cleaning up rock creek park in April. I personally fished out big bits of broken picnic table, which was too big to put into garbage bags, so I propped it next to a garbage can. Its still there.
2. Will NPS clear the RCP trail in winter?
3. Can NPS do something about the broken sewage lines spilling onto the CCT?
4. Can NPS please shovel the snow outside their HQ?

by SJE on May 19, 2014 4:39 pm • linkreport

(1) Playground downtown. There are other playgrounds planned, but they must wait for building construction, or renovation of Franklin Square. Is there no way to expedite transfer of a sliver surrounding Mt. Vernon Square to the District for a playground?
(2) Install some signs so that bicyclists and pedestrians understand connections from the Lincoln Memorial across the river and to Georgetown.
(3) A bit belatedly, kudos for the pirate playground in Anacostia Park.
(4) The investment and beauty of Pershing Park is evident, even as NPS has deferred maintenance. Make restoration a priority (and break the Guest Services stranglehold on the vending kiosk.)

by John on May 19, 2014 5:02 pm • linkreport

Can we please get some of those solar powered trash compacting garbage cans for Dupont Circle? The current trashcans are woefully inadequate when the weather warms up and Sweetgreen salad containers, Starbucks coffee cups, and Frozenyo bowls overflow onto the surrounding grass and sidewalks.

by JDS32 on May 19, 2014 5:18 pm • linkreport

Don't forget one of the most visited NPS parks in this region is in horrible condition... the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

by selxic on May 19, 2014 8:12 pm • linkreport

Two things:

1. I find it hard to believe that NPS ever writes tickets for off-leash dogs in Rock Creek Park. They crap wherever they want, eat whatever they want, and otherwise disturb the off-trail wildlife.

At this point the portion of Rock Creek Park near 17th St NW has been turned into a virtual dog park.

2. Kudos for keeping the Fort DuPont hiker-biker trail relatively safe, trash-free, and in good shape. The only problem is that 5-7 large trees have fallen across the trail in the past several months. I'd remove them myself, but I don't want to get busted running a chainsaw on Federal park land.

by Adam B on May 19, 2014 8:59 pm • linkreport

When are they going to recognize that the safety of their visitors is more important than scenic viewsheds? Every call for fixing the unsafe GW Pkwy / Mt Vernon Trail intersections is met with "well our enabling legislation says" and "it's a historic area". Enforce the speed limit, do some engineering to improve safety at the intersections and build it, even if it spoils the view a little. It's hard to do more to spoil the view than having a commuter freeway through it. People's lives are at stake.

Also status of the 110 Trail EA? Gravelly Point / Roaches Run EA? Long Bridge Park Connection?

by Chris Slatt on May 19, 2014 11:44 pm • linkreport

Piney Branch Road from Arkansas down to Rock Creek is a disaster, both the road itself and the "trails" that parallel it. Part grass (with worn ruts), part dilapidated tarmac, and part crushed gravel, it's a dangerous hodgepodge of surfaces. Add to that the collapsed wall between the sidewalk and the drainage creek, where there has been only caution tape between pedestrians and a ravine for over a year. Add to that no cut-out access to the "path", meaning bikers are more or less forced onto the road (which is its own pothole-palooza). I could go on, but since this is one of the few routes between east of the park and west of the park, too many users of too many transit types are forced to share failing infrastructure. I bike, drive, or run this every day, but it's become a hazard regardless of the means.

by Martyn O on May 20, 2014 12:11 am • linkreport

1. More CABI

2. Piney Brach comment above.

3. repave Rock Creek

4. The Rock Creek bike trail

5. Very much agree on trash collection as well.

by charlie on May 20, 2014 7:11 am • linkreport

Note that NPS really does not have the money to maintain its facilities. Contact your representatives (if you have any) and tell them to fund NPS.

by Mike on May 20, 2014 8:24 am • linkreport

For the NPS town hall meeting: 3rd St west of the Capitol between Constitution and Independence (in other words, where it crosses the Mall) is six to seven lanes wide. Is there a need for so many lanes? Reduce it to four lanes and a cycletrack and give the remainder back to the Mall.

by likedrypavement on May 20, 2014 8:29 am • linkreport

Enforce NPS policy that dogs must be on a leash at all times.

Per NPS, restrictions on pets in parks are as much to protect your pet as to protect park resources for these reasons:
--When a loose pet chases a squirrel or raccoon, the wild animal's ability to survive is threatened, and when it is threatened, it may react aggressively.
--There is a possibility of exchange of diseases between domestic animals and wildlife.
--Dogs, the most common traveling companion, are natural predators that may harass or even kill native wildlife that is protected within the park's boundaries.
--The "scent of a predator" that dogs leave behind can disrupt or alter the behavior of native animals.
--Pets may be hard to control, even on a leash, within confines of often narrow park trails and may trample or dig up fragile vegetation.
--Dog and cat feces add excessive nutrients and bacterial pollution to water, which decreases water quality and can also cause human health problems.

by Amy on May 20, 2014 8:46 am • linkreport

3rd Street (and all the roads that cross the Mall) belongs to DDOT. Contact them about that.

by David C on May 20, 2014 9:11 am • linkreport

Ask Eleanor to actually do something useful. NPS needs to have an urban mission separate from their national park, preservation mission. They are in direct conflict with each other. They are also car centric. This is how you get a dangerous bike path which they oppose widening as it will ruin the scenic and natural environment, but it is perfectly fine to spend money keeping the roadway smooth running 4 lane highway right next to it. We can't light the trails, we can't build Fort Circle, we can't fix intersections, its a fight for playgrounds in "their" parks...

by Joe on May 20, 2014 9:21 am • linkreport

For NPS:

1. When for-profit businesses use park space - I'm thinking specifically of the Segway tour company that takes over the center section of Franklin Square for their practice sessions - they should pay for it.

2. NPS should clear the sidewalks around their land of snow in the winter, especially where there are bus stops.

by Susan on May 20, 2014 9:24 am • linkreport

@ David Alpert

Sorry for being late to the party. I assume there will be a chance for people to actually speak to NPS, although I know you'll cover all the issues.

1) Please ask the Congresswoman and NPS to endorse the bike lane/sidewalk alternative 4 to the Broad Branch reconstruction. We are so close to having a real connection for people to Rock Creek Park for everyone, not just drivers.

2) NPS just put in new lights for most of Rock Creek Parkway to the Zoo, and they are never turned on. Bad for drivers and for those using the bike path.

by fongfong on May 20, 2014 9:27 am • linkreport

Please ask the Congresswoman to seek out partnerships between the District, NPS, and private sector in getting much needed upgrades and maintenance for all of the circles and small parks outside of the Mall. The street grid with the circles and small parks is unique to DC and should be celebrated and places that residents and visitors will want to spend more time in. The grass, landscaping, tree stumps, sidewalks, fountains, and lighting is decades behind in maintenance and upgrades. Our parks should be on a grand scale and comparable to the parks in Paris, London and other capital cities.

by Scott on May 20, 2014 9:53 am • linkreport

move "the pole". Thanks.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 20, 2014 9:55 am • linkreport


Ask them to work with Arlington to improve the safety of the Rosslyn "intersection of doom". Removing the pole would certainly be one thing that would help.

by Falls Church on May 20, 2014 10:34 am • linkreport

The Pole I was referring to is the one at the DC end of the Mason bridge, but yeah.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 20, 2014 10:38 am • linkreport

Del Ray has only one "e" BTW.

by spookiness on May 20, 2014 10:59 am • linkreport

On the NPS:

I'd like to know if they realize that "more bicycling" (specifically bike lanes and complete-streets) is repeatedly found to have majority support in public polls.

Given the public support for bicycling, current bicycle use in NPS parks, national trends away from driving and toward bicycling, walking and transit, can we return our parkways to use as parkways instead of speedways?

by Jonathan Krall on May 20, 2014 11:00 am • linkreport

spookiness: Whoops! Fixed. My mistake - I put that in the intro but he had it right. I was confounded by the science fiction book imprint.

by David Alpert on May 20, 2014 11:02 am • linkreport

NPS should have a policy for its' more urban parks such as Rock Creek, The Mall, Cuyahoga Valley, etc. that permits it to more seriously consider local issues as opposed to always making preservation #1. Now, preservation should still rank at or near the top, but the NPS should also, whenever possible, work to better fit these urban parks into the local urban fabric. For example, improving the paved bike trails within Rock Creek Park to better move bike and pedestrian traffic into, within and out of the park. Perhaps these improved paved trails can be hidden by the woods in Rock Creek, without compromising safety. In other words, better integrating these urban national parks into the city(s) surrounding them. Preservation does serve to make and keep these urban parks a refuge within their urban area.

by DaveG on May 20, 2014 11:04 am • linkreport

re: NPS:

This is sort of nuclear-option, but it seems worth asking if NPS would consider turning over some of its small urban park space (e.g. Dupont Cir, Logan Cir, Meridian Hill Park, Lincoln Park) to the district, or exempting this space from certain NPS rules to allow DC to provide supplemental services. NPS will never have adequate resources and doesn't particularly have expertise to manage these types of spaces.

Urban parks were a personal priority of fmr Interior Sec. Salazar, though that didn't seem to help DC's parks much. I doubt current Interior Sec. Jewell is as focused on that issue. DC has the resources to provide much better and much more innovative services in its neighborhood parks and should be freed to to so.

by Dan on May 20, 2014 11:10 am • linkreport

In addition to some of the great ideas above, please ask NPS about the role and responsibilities of the National Park Police in relation to transportation. As a cyclist, I get the distinct impression that NPP favors drivers over the vulnerable road users. They rarely enforce traffic laws against drivers (see, e.g., speeding on the parkways), but go out of their way and their jurisdiction to often incorrectly ticket cyclists (see, e.g., the recent ticketing of the victim at the Intersection of Doom, and the "crackdowns" on salmoners and stop sign runners on Hains Point.

Additionally, it is understandable that NPS is constrained by its small budget. However, when we see NPS use those constrained resources to, e.g., restripe the MVT and clean the parking lot at TR Island instead of fixing the troll bridge, the "we don't have the money" argument is less sympathetic.

Finally, there are places where inefficiencies in their road maintenance program could be exploited to benefit trails. For example, in the winter, snow clearing trucks idle in the TR Island parking lot for significant amounts of time. Throw a snowblower in the passenger seat, and those drivers could easily spend that time clearing the GWP overpass on the MVT, or the troll bridge.

Thanks for doing this!

by dasgeh on May 20, 2014 4:46 pm • linkreport

One, I'd like to see Rawlins Park between E and D Sts. extended all the way to the Kennedy Center. Though I'm not sure this is NPS domain?

Two, can the NPS work on turning Wolf Trap Park into an arts colony with frequent activities for tourists. Surround this colony with low cost housing buildings and shops in the form of a skiing town and erect a Metro stop.

Three, give the Eclipse back to people. Remove the parking, or at least underground it, and redesign the park to look more like Central Park. A couple of amenities I'd like to see there: build a Presidential Museum honoring all Presidents along 17th St. and a hall of Presidents. This whole property from H St. to the north and Constitution to the south is called Resident's Park, and it belongs to the people. I think its important to be progressive and reinventlong standing public assets for new generations.

by David B. on May 20, 2014 10:01 pm • linkreport

For the NPS town hall:

The National Mall is an international tourist destination, a visually dramatic urban space, and, with its open space for peaceful assembly, a symbol of freedom. As such, the current Mall driving and parking situation needs to be reconfigured. The 12th St tunnel under the Mall provides an example for how all roads crossing the Mall should be moved under the Mall. The entire length of the Mall should be a park space for pedestrians, uninterrupted by car traffic. Currently, tourists with children have to cross multiple lanes of traffic at 3rd, 7th, 15th, and 17th Streets to traverse the Mall. This is not in keeping with the spirit of the Mall. It also detracts from the stunning viewscapes.

Regarding Mall parking, it should be restricted to official vehicles and tour buses. Providing space and below market rate parking for the few dozen private vehicles that can park at the Mall parking meters is a misplacement of priorities. Until private vehicle parking is eliminated, then the parking rates should be raised substantially to reflect the value of the real estate the private cars are renting. And until the at grade roads bisecting the Mall are moved below grade, then at least eliminate metered parking on 3rd and 7th Streets where they cross the Mall and reduce the number of lanes to four with cycletracks. Again, this would improve the viewscapes and better accommodate the millions of international tourists with children and strollers.

by likedrypavement on May 21, 2014 9:44 am • linkreport

Please start ticketing the scores of private vehicles from Maryland, parked illegally along Madison Drive NW, by employees of the Metropolitan Police Dept. HQ, Monday through Friday, 8 to 4.

by Sydney on May 21, 2014 11:23 am • linkreport

East and West Potomac Park has become (or has been for a long time) a bus parking lot. Especially Haines Point. There are signs that say no bus standing or parking with hundreds of buses parked there, with their engines running. The buses pass runners and bikes way too fast and close. The problem is the worst during the week. I realize the buses need a place to park, but this is a park for people to enjoy themselves and buses should park elsewhere.

by Greg on May 21, 2014 11:26 am • linkreport

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