Norton Introduces Bill to Clarify that D.C. Can Work with NPS to Make Improvements to Franklin Park
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill to clarify that the District of Columbia has the authority to enter into cooperative management agreements (CMAs) with the National Park Service (NPS) to maintain and invest in NPS properties in the city. Norton said her legislation is particularly pressing because D.C. already has plans to enter into a CMA with NPS to assume operational jurisdiction of Franklin Park, a NPS park located in downtown D.C. Most D.C. neighborhood parks are owned by NPS. The legislation would remove any doubt that D.C., like states, can enter into CMAs with NPS.
“My bill is a gift to the federal government because D.C. and the private sector would be paying for the upgrading and upkeep of federal properties that have been neglected due to the failure of Congress to appropriately fund NPS,” Norton said. “Now, the D.C. government has stepped up with the funding to put NPS parks to the highest and best use for which Congress intended. The local D.C. government is in the best position to work with NPS to provide the necessary resources and attention to neighborhood parks. Franklin Park is the perfect example where D.C. can fill the gap and make major improvements that will benefit D.C. residents and visitors to the city. My bill is not only uncontroversial; it is a gift Congress should be happy to receive.”
Norton’s full introductory statement is below.
Statement of Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton on the District of Columbia National Park Service Improvement Act
Ms. Norton. Mr. Speaker. Today I introduce the District of Columbia National Park Service Improvement Act, a bill that would clarify that D.C. has the authority to enter into cooperative management agreements (CMAs) with the National Park Service (NPS) to maintain and invest into NPS properties in the city. NPS is the steward for many of our country’s most beautiful natural wonders, but they are uniquely responsible for most of the small, urban parks here in the District. Given NPS’s limited budget and resources, we should be encouraging local jurisdictions to work collaboratively with NPS to make sure that our National Parks are being cared for—other states have already explored these opportunities, but my bill would remove any doubt that the District of Columbia shares the same authority as the states to enter into CMAs with NPS.
The city already has plans to enter into a CMA with NPS to take over operational jurisdiction of Franklin Park, and NPS park in downtown D.C. that has seen better days. The city plans to work with the Downtown Business Improvement District to transform the park to its former glory by ensuring regular maintenance and providing amenities such as food, gardens, and other services. As the city’s downtown core has grown to include more businesses and more workers, the need for green space has also grown. The city’s plans for Franklin Park are a model for what can be done when local jurisdictions get creative about protecting and improving our nation’s parks.
My bill is uncontroversial and simply clarifies that the District of Columbia can provide financial support to NPS in order to maintain their property. This is a win for the city, the federal government, and all those who live in or visit the District of Columbia and enjoy our NPS parks. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.