Bringing Federal Parks and Outdoor Areas in D.C. to Their Full Potential

Bringing Federal Parks and Outdoor Areas in D.C. to Their Full Potential

No Smoking in Federal Parks in D.C.

Norton has received encouraging news following her request to the National Park Service (NPS), which owns most D.C. parks, to ban smoking in all NPS units, including parks, sites and trails, here.  NPS currently allows smoking only in restricted areas of some parks, but given the nature of smoking and its dire effects on D.C. children and many adults, Norton believes a smoking ban is particularly appropriate in the NPS parks, where children and adults go for fresh air and games, given the documented effects of second-hand smoke.

Making Glover Park a D.C. Model

Norton is pursuing affirmative strategies to designate a NPS trail in Glover Archbold Park in Northwest as the “Rachel Carson Nature Trail.”  She believes that residents of the Wesley Heights and Foxhall Village communities, who requested her bill to designate the trail to honor Carson, the world-renown environmental pioneer and inspiration for the environmental movement, have started something useful that NPS should encourage.  Although the community gathered evidence that Carson studied nature in Glover Archbold Park, as a federal employee at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Capital Memorial Advisory Commission (NCMAC) concluded that it was neutral on the naming of the trail, after Norton testified before the Commission twice in support of renaming the trail.  The NCMAC’s position is that the designation can be done by either Congress or administratively by NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis if he determines there is compelling justification for the naming.  Norton is working with the Senate sponsor of her bill, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), of the state where Carson was born, on the bill.  At the same time, she believes that a trail to commemorate Carson’s association with Glover Archbold Park would do more than honor Carson and her groundbreaking book, Silent Spring.  Norton is prepared to request administrative designation if the bill does not move quickly enough.  She believes that the strong interest of the local community in a NPS trail and the involvement of students in its upkeep foster important goals of the NPS itself.  While other communities may not be interested in naming trails, NPS should embrace the community’s interest in its park and name the trail for Rachel Carson, and try to spread this community’s affection for Glover Park to other NPS parks. 

Making a Historic Cemetery into a Park

Norton held her first ever "Clean-up our History Day at Woodlawn Cemetery," to assist with the clean-up of the historic but overgrown cemetery, which is the final resting place in Ward 7 for many prominent African Americans, including Blanche K. Bruce, the first African American U.S. Senator, and John Willis Menard, the first African American elected to Congress.  Speakers at the event included Lonnie G. Bunch, Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Several community clean-up events at the cemetery have followed.

Enlivening the Mall

Building on her efforts last year to enliven the National Mall, Norton expanded Lunchtime Music on the Mall, with auditions at Metro headquarters.  Every Tuesday and Thursday during the warm weather months, local and regional musicians came to the National Mall to perform during lunchtime hours, giving visitors as well as federal and other office workers downtown a break from the pace of business in Washington.  Lunchtime Music on the Mall, sponsored by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the NPS, in conjunction with Norton, will resume in the Spring of 2014, and Norton plans to expand it to other areas of the Mall beyond its current home across from the steps of the National Gallery of Art.

Norton was unanimously elected by Democrats on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as Ranking Member of the Committee’s Highways and Transit Subcommittee, the largest and most important of its subcommittees.  The Subcommittee is responsible for policy and for the billions of dollars that fund the nation’s highways, bridges and transit, including Metro. 

In the most important breakthrough for home rule of the year, following the federal government shutdown, Norton’s efforts and negotiations will keep the District government open all of fiscal year 2014 and funded at fiscal year 2014 levels, while the federal government is operating at fiscal year 2013 levels and only until January 15.  This was a breakthrough year for budget autonomy.  Norton not only protected the city’s budget autonomy referendum from congressional interference, but she secured language from the president for budget autonomy in his fiscal year 2014 budget and got budget autonomy included in the pending Senate Appropriations Committee-passed fiscal year 2014 D.C. Appropriations bill.  Although House Republicans again introduced bills to violate the city’s home rule, Norton fought all of them off and, instead, expanded and strengthened D.C.’s self-governance.  She also got D.C. significant new equal treatment with the states and won new support for D.C. statehood. 

Norton continued strong work in committee, maintaining her seniority on the Economic Development Subcommittee and moving important economic development projects to fruition.  She maintained presidential support for D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant program, even persuading the president to include a $5 million increase in funding for the program in fiscal year 2014, as well as for funding for the continued construction of the Department of Homeland Security headquarters complex at the St. Elizabeths West Campus in Ward 8 and for the East Campus, owned by the District.  Norton made noteworthy advances in public safety this year, and led the effort that eliminated exorbitant phone rates for prisoners and their families.

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