Editorial:  Bowser Yanks $1.4 Million Out of Budget for Canal and Yards Parks

Editorial:  Bowser Yanks $1.4 Million Out of Budget for Canal and Yards Parks

by Larry Janezich

Mayor Bowser cut $1.4 million in funds for the Capitol Riverfront BID’s maintenance and programming for the two parks near the National’s stadium from the FY22 Budget.  That means that the Department of Recreation will have to pick up the ball starting October 1.  The money supported a contract with the BID which has overseen the maintenance, operations, programming, and activation of the parks for the past ten years. 

To date, neither the Business and Economic Development Committee nor the Committee on Recreation, Libraries and Youth Affairs – which have oversight of the parks – has moved to restore the funds and if that doesn’t happen by August 3, it’s not going to happen at all. 

This would leave the BID little choice but to surrender the parks to the city agency since funding the work without city help will force staff cuts or increasing the assessments from businesses which benefit from the BID.  Even that solution would leave some sort of legal contractual agreement to be negotiated. 

CHC asked ANC6D Chair Edward Daniels to react to the cuts:  “I was surprised to hear of these cuts to our local parks and will do all that I can to support our BID in securing funding to continue the wonderful job that their team performs to make our green spaces some of the best that you will find in the District. Our parks are staples in our community, not only for locals, but as a destination for residents and tourists alike. At this time, we need a collective voice from our residents to let DC Council know just how important their budget funding is. Based on my interactions with DPR, there is no way that their agency can come close to maintaining and programming our parks the way that the Capitol Riverfront BID has, for years.”

This is the second year in a row that Bowser has squeezed the BID – last year, she eliminated one-year contracts over $1 million which included the BID’s park maintenance contract.  Funding was later restored, but cut from $1.85 million to $1.2 million because of the pandemic. 

The BID’s position is that both of these parks are important assets to the neighborhood, ensuring access to green space, the water, and community-building programming.  The need for high-quality maintenance and operations will only increase as the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood continues to grow.  DPR simply can’t provide what is needed. 

The DC Council will hold the final votes on this $17.5 billion budget on August 3 and August 10.  Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen supports restoration of the funding but that’s not going to be enough.  What is needed is community outreach to other Chair Phil Mendelsohn and other DC Councilmembers urging them to include $1.4 million in funding for Yards Park and Canal Park in the overall budget.  They should do this for the good of the community. 

The community can help by contacting Mendelson and all other DC Councilmembers to ask for their support in restoring the funds. 

pmendelson@dccouncil.us  (Chair, DC City Council)

kmcduffie@dccouncil.us  (Chair, Business and Economic Development Committee)

twhite@dccouncil.us   (Chair, Committee on Recreation, Libraries and Youth Affairs)

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