Your article on the National Park Service and its unequal treatment of D.C. and its neighboring suburbs struck a nerve (“Phantom of the Opera,” 2/8). I’d like to share several observations:
First, the Park Service seems to partition the District of Columbia into two jurisdictions: the National Mall and everything else. Priority is clearly accorded the former—or, to put it another way, presently a favorable image to visitors to the Mall is more important to the Park Service than the services provided to District residents. For example, after repeated calls to the Park Service, I’ve pretty much given up on the removal of graffiti on the stone walls along the Potomac River bicycle trial in the vicinity of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge and the Kennedy Center. This includes a swastika, which appeared under the bridge last summer. Or how about the diseased trees in this area, which slowly drop their dead limbs? Contrast this to the perfectly manicured park area along George Washington Parkway just across the river in Virginia.
There’s another problem relating to the Park Service and its maintenance of public spaces throughout the city. For starters, when a problem requires attention, it’s often unclear whether the city or the Park Service should be contacted. Further, for city-maintained property, residents know to contact the Department of Parks and Recreation. However, to my knowledge, the Park Service makes no effort to provide contact information for land under its jurisdiction.
Thus, although some regularly lambaste the quality of service provided by the D.C. government, it’s clear to me that the National Park Service is not too far behind.