This post has been updated.
Last year, new requirements from the National Park Service almost shelved the annual concert series at Fort Reno park in Northwest D.C. Now the popular series is facing the same trouble — and asking the public for help.
A message posted on fortreno.com says that, like last year, the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police are asking that Fort Reno pay for park police to staff each concert in Tenleytown, and they need donations to help cover the fee.
“I shudder at having to write that because it makes the concert series appear like an unsafe environment — something it definitely is not,” says the series’ website. “I had hoped that our peaceful series in 2014 would have changed minds, or that I could — but alas, here we are.”
That hope may have been misguided. According a spokesperson for the National Park Service, last year’s Fort Reno concerts led to “12 incidents requiring law enforcement, ranging from illegal vending to drug and alcohol issues.”
Plus, it doesn’t sound like Fort Reno was in a position to avoid the police fee in the first place. The NPS spokesperson says Fort Reno organizers knew about the fee at least since February, when they met with NPS and U.S. Park Police to discuss this year’s concerts.
Last year, Fort Reno booker Amanda MacKaye announced she was canceling the concert series in light of the newly required fee, which totaled $2,640, outstripping Fort Reno’s annual budget. (That expense has risen slightly since: It used to cost $66 per hour to hire Park Police to staff events like Fort Reno concerts. Now it costs $70 per hour, according to NPS.)
MacKaye eventually met with representatives from the Park Service and U.S. Park Police — later appearing on WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi Show — and last year’s concerts were un-canceled. But the feds didn’t relieve Fort Reno of the police fee.
“One of the primary goals in permitting any event is to ensure public safety,” writes the NPS spokesperson in an email. “These fees are standard practice for many permitted special events.”
Concerts on federal parkland in D.C. are generally required to pay for U.S. Park Police security.
According to Fort Reno’s website, 21 local bands have been scheduled to play the park this summer.
MacKaye has not returned multiple requests for comment.
Photo: Hardcore band Give plays the 2014 Fort Reno concert series