Bill says District, National Park Service able to work together

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The Chesapeake House is a vacant National Park Service building at the corner of Chesapeake Street and Belt Road NW. (Brady Holt/The Current/August 2017)

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill by voice vote Jan. 16 which authorizes the District and the National Park Service (NPS) to enter into cooperative management agreements for the operation, maintenance and management of National Park System units in the District.

The bill, sponsored by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, is intended to clarify that D.C., like states, can enter into cooperative management agreements with NPS. According to a release from Norton, the District already has plans to enter into an agreement to assume operational jurisdiction of Franklin Park, a NPS park located in downtown D.C.

The rehabilitation of Franklin Park would be funded through a public-private partnership between NPS, the D.C. government and the DowntownDC Business Improvement District.

The DowntownDC Business Improvement District released a statement in support of the House’s unanimous passage of the bill. The group has budgeted $750,000 annually to operate and maintain the park upon completion of renovations.

Plans include reconstructing broken sidewalks, building a new fountain and children’s play garden, and offering programming in the park including exercise classes, performances and movie screenings