After organizer Amanda MacKaye called off the popular Fort Reno concert series yesterday citing burdensome and unexpected U.S. Park Police requirements, public outcry came swiftly: Supporters of the series started an online petition, and constituents began calling the offices of D.C. Council Member Mary Cheh and Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen to voice their concerns.
Now D.C. Shadow Senator Paul Strauss is tossing his hat into the ring and pulling together a meeting with MacKaye, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Park Police, with the hope of saving the series.
MacKaye says she is scheduled to meet with Strauss and representatives from both bodies on Monday. Sen. Strauss—who volunteered at Fort Reno in the 1980s and 1990s—calls the meeting “very preliminary,” but “a good positive step.”
“My job is to navigate issues where the federal government involves the rights of D.C. residents,” he says. He calls Fort Reno’s present quandary part of an “interesting evolution,” because the D.C. government once helped pay for music events at the federally controlled park. Now, he says, the federal government would rather charge the concerts’ organizers for what he considers a public service.
Thursday, U.S. Park Police released a short statement on Fort Reno, saying “The NPS and USPP are reviewing the details of previous permits and previous law enforcement needs related to the concert series. Our primary goal is public safety. Both the NPS and USPP recognize the importance of the concerts to the community and look forward to further discussions with the permit applicant.”
Below, read a letter that Rep. Van Hollen’s office sent to Elaine Hackett—the congressional liaison at the U.S. Department of the Interior—addressing the concert series’ cancellation.