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Norton Says NPS Cannot Unilaterally Take Mall Recreation Area with No Public Comment Period, without Providing an Alternative

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Location: Washington, DC

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released her letter to National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan Jarvis asking that NPS provide an alternative site near the Ellipse in President's Park where D.C. residents can hold recreational activities they had enjoyed until they were preempted without notice. NPS recently planted trees near the Ellipse, an area commonly used for recreational activities, without giving public notice. The Norton letter is a follow-up to a meeting Norton had with NPS and Secret Service officials, where it was agreed that the agencies would address the concerns of her constituents at a public meeting.

Norton, in her letter, wrote, "Despite being able to ask individual questions after the presentations, my constituents were concerned that they were not able to ask public questions to raise the issue that they were promised would be discussed…Because NPS failed to obtain public comment before planting the trees in President's Park, which has directly interfered with public use of the field, and because no further information was given to the community about the trees at the July 9 public meeting, I ask that you propose an alternative site where my constituents can hold their recreational activities. I also ask that you send me any future plans that NPS or the Secret Service has for planting trees in Presidents' Park. I ask for a response in 30 days."

In June, Norton's office was contacted by the Wednesday Night Ultimate on the Ellipse, an ultimate frisbee group, regarding the newly planted trees around the Ellipse in President's Park. Because there was no public comment period before the trees were planted, Norton asked for an opportunity for public participation, and NPS and the Secret Service agreed, but the matter was not discussed to the residents' satisfaction at the public meeting in July.


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