If Dupont Circle park looks a little less green these days, it’s not just you.
Workers hired by the National Park Service spent the morning and afternoon yesterday digging up rows of pyracantha shrubs in the circle. The plant removal work is part of an ongoing effort to help purge rodents from the park, said NPS spokesman Mike Litterst.
“With the shrubs removed, it will be easier to treat the rat burrows this winter, then the shrubs will be replaced in the spring with a variety that is less appealing to rats,” Litterst said.
So far, the rat abatement effort seems to be working, he added.
“In the first month of our agreement with [the D.C. Department of Health] to assist in treating national park sites, they report that the number of burrows at Dupont Circle went from 150 on October 1 to just 20 on October 29,” Litterst said. “Hopefully, between the D.C. Health efforts and the removal of the shrubs, area residents should be noticing a difference.”
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is scheduled host a town hall meeting tonight regarding D.C.’s urban parks that are owned and maintained by the National Park Service.
The community meeting begins at the African American Civil War Museum (1925 Vermont Ave. NW) at 6:30 p.m. this evening.
Meridian Hill Park, Dupont Circle, Logan Circle and the National Mall are just a few examples of D.C.’s NPS-owned parks.
“In a rare opportunity to speak to regional NPS leadership, Norton will be joined by National Park Service (NPS) National Capital Region Regional Director Bob Vogel and four regional NPS superintendents to hear from D.C. residents on how NPS can work with the community to maintain D.C.’s NPS-owned neighborhood parks located in all eight wards,” says a statement about the meeting.
Read more in the Oct. 31 press release from Norton’s office:
The National Park Service has reversed a contentious rule banning dogs and their owners from walking in the area around Logan Circle park’s statue.
According to the federal agency, leashed dogs and their owners are now allowed to roam every part of the park, including the fenced-off area that surrounds the statue of Major General John A. Logan. Dogs and humans were previously banned from that area, sparking a neighborhood debate back in May.
The rule change came about over the summer, said Robin Nixon, Chief of Partnerships at the NPS.
“After further consultation with solicitors at the Department of Interior, it was determined that we could not restrict pets from open areas, including the grassy area around statues,” Nixon said.
But that doesn’t mean dogs have free run of the place, she cautioned. Dog owners must keep their canines leashed at all times. It’s also illegal to let dogs go to the bathroom on or near the base of the statue, Nixon explained.
“Would you let your dog pee on the Washington Monument? It just seems like a common sense thing,” she said.
Some neighbors and local leaders have complained the park’s inner circle has become an unofficial dog park, leading to holes in the ground and discoloration of the statue’s base. Unleashed dogs can usually be seen running and playing in the area on any given evening.
Nixon said that while the agency won’t hesitate to ticket dog owners breaking the rules, it would prefer a more positive solution to the problem.
“We’re probably going to put up some educational information there by the statue that says, this is a memorial,” she said. “The history and the artistry of the statue is really important. We are doing everything we can to preserve them.”
Still, if all else fails, owners who break the law will be subject to fines, Nixon said. The agency plans to ask D.C. Police for extra help enforcing the rules in the coming months.
“It is regulation that your dog must be on the leash and it is against the law to deface government property. Urine will damage the statue,” Nixon said. “Hopefully, the educational effort has some impact, but we’ll go from there.”
Watch out, rats. The D.C. Department of Health and the National Park Service are gunning for you.
The District and federal agencies plan to launch a citywide offensive against rodents occupying NPS territory this Saturday.
“The National Park Service is committed to ensuring safe, positive experiences for visitors in all of our parks, and this agreement with the D.C. Department of Health provides us better tools to control the rodent population,” NPS National Capital regional director Robert Vogel said in a statement.
The partnership will help ensure parks see rat-abatement crews more often, according to the National Park Service. DOH will come up with recommendations to make parkland less welcoming to the vermin, too.
Meridian Hill Park’s Joan of Arc is armed once again. Technically, anyway.
Someone slipped what looks to be a foam sword into the statue’s hand sometime over the weekend. The sword, which has a slightly rounded edge and a yellow handle with a green guard, is considerably shorter and flimsier than the cast iron weapon vandals broke off and stole last Tuesday.
But at least it’s something?
— sharrowsDC (@sharrowsDC) September 25, 2016
The sword’s disappearance — which we were first to report last week — has kicked off plenty of speculation. Who took the sword? How did they remove it? Why did they take it?
Neither the National Park Service or the U.S. Park Police know exactly what happened, but both are actively investigating the crime.
The last time someone disarmed Joan of Arc, also known as Jeanne d’Arc, was in 1978, according to local history blog Ghosts of DC. The statue finally got its sword back in 2011.
Meridian Hill Park’s Joan of Arc is missing her sword.
The statue of the French heroine has been without a weapon since at least last night. A Borderstan editor photographed the sword-less Joan of Arc this morning.
The weapon normally is in her right hand as she sits atop a horse, ready for battle from her perch overlooking the park’s cascading fountain.
But she didn’t lose the weapon in a fight. Vandals apparently yanked the sword from her hand as recently as yesterday.
“It appears that someone vandalized the statue, and we’ve filed a report with U.S. Park Police,” National Park Service spokeswoman Emily Linroth said. “We estimate that it happened within the last 24 hours.”
This isn’t the first time the statue of Joan of Arc, also known as Jeanne d’Arc, has lost her sword.
Someone stole the weapon in 1978, according to local history blog Ghosts of DC. It wasn’t until 2011 when she got a replacement.
The statue, which is a replica of a monument in Cathedral de Notre Dame in Rheims, France, was a gift from France’s women to America’s women. President Warren G. Harding and French ambassador Jean Jules Jusserand in 1922 attended its dedication, which drew thousands of spectators.
Dupont Circle’s landmark fountain is dry again, and this time it’s because of green slime.
National Park Service workers drained and scrubbed the fountain yesterday after locals expressed disgust at globs of green scum floating inside the fountain’s basin:
— David Toccafondi (@davidtoc) August 29, 2016
— Hasan Jafree (@hasanjafree) August 23, 2016
— Ba'Naka (@BaNakaDEV) August 29, 2016
The scum, said Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst, was algae that flourished due to a “clogged intake line” in the fountain’s pipes. The clog prevented fresh water from circulating in the fountain, leading to the slimy mess, Litterst explained.
“Our facility management staff drained it yesterday and cleaned out the algae,” he said. “They will snake out the line tomorrow and if all goes well it will be flowing again on Friday.”
Dupont Circle’s fountain has had somewhat of a troubled year. The fountain overflowed immediately after workers switched it on in May. Then, leaks in the fountain’s piping caused it to stay dormant until mid-July.
The agency is planning to create what it calls the “world’s largest National Park Service emblem” with participants holding brown, green and white umbrellas on the west side of the monument Thursday morning, according to a Facebook event post.
The first 1,000 people to arrive for the event between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. will get a free T-shirt and an umbrella to celebrate the “Centennial Living Arrowhead,” which is intended to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the agency’s founding in 1916. Assembly of the umbrella panorama is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
“Between a National Park Service ‘living flag’ program for the bicentennial of Fort McHenry and a video that uses choreographed umbrellas to make designs that one of the staff had seen, the idea sort of evolved over a number of conversations about how best to commemorate the centennial of the National Park Service,” NPS spokesman Mike Litterst said in an email.
Before the event is slated to end at 11 a.m., the agency will have an aerial photograph of the display taken, an NPS news release says. The photo then will go up on the National Park Service’s website and social media pages.
Photo via Facebook/National Mall and Memorial Parks
Update at 9:54 a.m. on Tuesday: Meridian Hill Park’s fountain is back on. See our original story below:
A popular local park is parched again.
“We turned off the equipment for the weekend until we can finish making a few adjustments to the system,” explained Emily Linroth, public affairs specialist with the National Park Service. “We didn’t want to leave the fountain running unattended over the weekend until we know everything is working 100 percent.”
A contractor working on the fountain earlier this morning said crews turned off the water to fix a problem with the way the fountain is flowing.
“We got to figure out where the water is going before we can turn it on,” said the contractor, who didn’t want to share his name with a Borderstan reporter. The contractor added that the water was shut off to protect the fountain’s one-of-a-kind pump motor, which took months to fix and replace earlier this year.
The fountain will be turned on later today if all goes well, the contractor said.
Better late than never?
Water began flowing down the multi-tiered waterways at Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park some time before noon today. A reader tipped us off to the news earlier this afternoon.
The cascading fountain — purportedly the longest in North America — was turned off while crews worked to repair a special pump motor, according to National Park Service officials. Though the work was originally scheduled to be completed in June or July, complications with repairing the one-of-a-kind piece of equipment pushed that date farther and farther back throughout the summer.
But now water is flowing from the fountains, and not a moment too soon: Capital Weather Gang predicts this weekend will be one of the summer’s hottest.
Water could flow from Dupont Circle’s historic fountain later today after nearly a month of inactivity.
That’s the latest news from Mike Litterst, a public affairs officer with the National Park Service. Litterst said that crews could finish repairing the fountain and switch it on by the end of the day today.
“The contractors who are making the repairs to the fountain found some additional leaks in the piping over the weekend and are working on that today and tomorrow,” Litterst said. “They hope to have the fountain operational by the end of the day on Tuesday.”
Officials turned the fountain off last month to fix a broken motor that was causing it to overflow, Litterst said. The NPS also drained and cleaned the fountain last week in preparation for its second debut of the season.
What about Meridian Hill Park? That fountain too, is on track to be filled soon, said Emily Linroth, public affairs specialist with the NPS. It will likely take workers about two more weeks to repair a broken pump motor in Meridian Hill Park’s cascading waterways, Linroth said.
“We’re anticipating two weeks until it’s installed and running,” Linroth said. “And then it will take us about two days to fill the fountain with water.”
(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Water is flowing at the Dupont Circle fountain once again, but with an apparent hitch.
A visit to the park this morning revealed a steady trickle of water leaking from the fountain’s basin, down the steps and into the surrounding park. The water feature started operating at some point in the past three days after months of inaction during colder weather.
“Our plumbers are out there trying to get it under control,” said Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the National Park Service, which oversees the fountain. Last night, an NPS representative told NBC Washington the agency didn’t believe there was a major problem.
And sorry, lunch break crowd: The fountain’s edge now makes for a soggy place to sit.
Updated at 10:48 a.m. Friday: The National Park Service contacted us to clarify its rule regarding the park’s inner circle. As it turns out, some of the information originally given to us was “incorrect.” Humans and dogs alike are banned from entering the circle. The NPS initially told us that only dogs were banned from that part of the park.
We’ve updated this article to reflect the clarification.
Yesterday, we reported on a dog fight between some Logan Circle locals and the National Park Service.
The disagreement centers on whether dogs should be allowed in the small, fenced-off circle that surrounds the statue of Major General John A. Logan in Logan Circle park. (As an aside, it’s important to mention that leashed dogs are allowed to play in the surrounding park itself, just not the area around the statue.)
The NPS says dogs should not be allowed in the inner circle, citing possible damage to the statue and grass around it. But members of a group called Logan Circle Dogs are crying foul.
In the comments section of our article, one reader pointed out “there is also a dog park ‘ruffly’ 2 blocks away [from Logan Circle]. I understand using the circle for neighbors to take their dogs out for a quick potty break, but having dogs play around it when there is a good park nearby doesn’t make any sense.”
From Scott Leibowitz. Find Scott on Twitter @Lebodome. Email him at scott[AT]borderstan.com.
As the weather begins its turn from delightfully warm to overwhelmingly balmy, the move of city folk to outdoor space is easy to spot as the green areas such as Dupont Circle, Meridian Hill Park and the National Mall get a little crowded. Frankly, it’s a bit of a limited selection when looking for green space in our concrete jungle. Thankfully, the National Park Service exists to maintain our pristine and beautiful landscape around us, like the Chesapeake Bay and the waters that run into it. With that in mind, I encourage everyone in Borderstan at some point this spring or summer to visit Great Falls in Virginia.
If you read my space regularly, you will have noticed the trend of day trips on the weekends to get out of the city. I am a huge fan of taking a day, getting past the Beltway, and seeing where you can go and what’s out there. Now of course I understand that I have the luxury of my car, but if you live in this town and either don’t have/know someone with a ZipCar account or a car itself, you are not good at friending for benefits. It makes living in this city good to great so get on it if you haven’t already (I mean I know some people are nice to me just for my Ford Taurus, I don’t mind).
Great Falls is just serene. It is an easy 30-minute drive, $5 dollar parking, and then the activities are up to you. Running, picnicking, rafting, bird watching, this place has got it all. Many people go there for the extensive and varied hiking trails that lead in all different directions. Here are just some of the highlights:
Oh, The People You Will See: Now here in Borderstan there are plenty of great places for people watching. Great Falls has all that and more. My girlfriend and I must have spent an easy hour sitting quietly on a bench enjoying the fresh air, seeing a pretty great sampling of the American experience. Favorite thing: people who dress up formally for the outdoors; it is totally okay to wear shorts, people.
Rapid Watching: There is something peaceful about watching water move. Maybe it’s the forces of nature right before your eyes, but I could watch the Potomac River hit massive boulders for hours. There are also brave souls who kayak these waters and watching them navigate is quite a scene.
Picnic Heaven: Massive amount of picnic space. Public grills that only require your own bag of charcoal. No alcohol as it’s a national park, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grill some dogs and enjoy the crisp clean air.
So the next time the city has you boxed in, the Red Line has maintenance, or you want to avoid large clumps of tourists taking pictures of monuments, take a drive to Great Falls and go hike.
This Week’s Thought
If you aren’t watching the NHL playoffs, you are missing out. This year has turned into one of the most physical and violent playoffs I have ever seen. Tune in for the mayhem.
Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!
- Our local Washington Nationals are doing so well, even the New York Times is writing about them.
- John Kerry and huge Obama face cut-out. Funny.
- I am saying it here. The implications and possible snowball effect of 3-D Tupac is extremely worrisome.
- Woman have a hard enough time breaking into professional sports. Here is another step backwards. Credit here goes to a new blogger and old friend. Read her stuff; it’s original and on point.
On Saturday, the U.S. Park Police went through the Occupy DC tents in McPherson, removing those that were serving as homes for the protesters. Campaign/sleeping is prohibited in the park. The huge majority of the tents were removed and McPherson Square on Sunday was mostly barren, except for some tents around the edges of the park.
However, tents dedicated to the “political goals” were left in place — for now. Earth-moving equipment was also being used to grade the park’s surface. Teams of National Park Service (NPS) employees were standing at the edge of McPherson Square in white jumpsuits with a distinctively “biohazard cleanup” look to them. Several Park Police officers were on horseback, overseeing the rest of the NPS work on Sunday.
A spokesman for Occupy DC told Borderstan on Sunday afternoon that “more tents would be going up tonight, ones that will be dedicated to the political aims of the movement.” Another Occupy DC member said that “occupying the National Mall” was next.
The status of Occupy DC in McPherson Square is probably not resolved. Dcist has a good writeup on what may come next, including legal actions planned by Occupy DC. Lydia DePillis at Washington City Paper has a good story on what exactly happened in McPherson Square on Saturday — and figures it’s probably time for the Occupy DC to figure out what do next.
The Occupy DC sprang up after similar Occupy movements took hold in large U.S. cities. The broad political goals are to draw attention to income inequality in the United States, financial institution regulation and unemployment. The movement started in New York as Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park. Another major Occupy movement was in Oakland, California.
McPherson Square is just south of the Logan Circle neighborhood and the park is actually located inside the boundaries of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2F.