The Corner Forum
Sunday, July 6, 2003
Issue #37

ANC Letter Argues Against Lincoln Park's Closure at Dusk

The following letter was sent by Joseph Fengler, the chairman of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6A, on June 12 to John Hale, the superintendent of National Capitol Parks, East. The letter was approved by the ANC at its June meeting.

Dear Mr. Hale:

We are writing in regard to the recently posted signs at Lincoln Park, which indicate that the park is now closed at dusk. The current chair of the North Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, recently spoke with Mr. Stephen Syphax of your office.

She was told that 1) the restriction was not new, only recently posted; 2) although there are rumors to the contrary, it was not being done in response to reports of criminal activity; and 3) that it was the intention of the NPS that the regulation be selectively enforced. However, other residents have been told by the Capitol Park Police that they do intend to consistently enforce the regulation.

We believe that closing the park at dusk is a very poor idea.

First, the park is used heavily before and after the posted times. In the evening, families with young children and/or dogs use the park often after dark. In the morning, before sunrise, many members of our neighborhood use the park for exercise.

The reality is that most members of the community are at work or school during the day and can only make use of the park in the early morning and evening hours. And in the summer, many neighbors prefer to wait until dusk, when the park cools down. If the park is closed from dusk to dawn, it will be effectively off limits to working people, weekdays, for much of the year.

Second, given the size of the park, commuters can't avoid walking past it on their way to and from work. Currently, there is a "critical mass" of families, joggers, dog-walkers and other responsible citizens lending safety in numbers to pedestrians passing by.

If these people are banished, the park will become a safety hazard, a "no man's land," from which the criminal element can prey on passers-by. A police presence cannot be maintained continuously.

We request that if the park must be closed, it should only be during those hours when there is little likelihood of legitimate activity, perhaps from 11:00 or 12:00 at night until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning with lighting provided during all non-daylight hours.

If you could e-mail me an update by June 30, 2003, it would be appreciated. §