We see by the papers that the Regan administration budget proposes increased user fees for those who visit national parks. the budget doesn't say anything about national parks in and around Washington but, gee, if the administration is really serious, Metro Scene has some ideas on how to wring out more money.
The Mall is a national park -- right? So is Rock Creek Parkway and George Washington Parkway and Suitland Parkway and Baltimore-Washington Parkway? Wouldn't it be a great idea to turn them into toll roads to collect user fees for national parks?
And Memorial Bridge, unlike the other bridges across the Potomac River, is federally owned. Why not tolls?
The streets that cross the Mall on the surface or in tunnels cross national parkland. Why not tolls on, among others, Seventh, 14th and 17th streets and the three tunnels that carry traffic beneath the Mall?
Since the Washington Aqueduct is federally owned (although it pays its own way through charges to water consumers), why not special user fees collected by coin slots on faucets: perhaps 1 cent for a drink of water, 5 cents for a face wash or a flush, 10 cents for a shower, 25 cents for a tub bath, 50 cents for a lawn watering or car washing?
Revenues could be enhanced further by turnstiles at the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and for those who walk across Lafayette Square.
And don't overlook picnic fees for those who, in warmer seasons, eat lunches in the parks named for Franklin, McPherson, Dupont, Farragut and Rawlins. Maybe the pain could be eased by selling an all-year permit at a discount.
And there's the best idea of all -- no kidding on this one! -- that was invoked by President Carter and shot down by the courts. Charge federal workers the commercial rate for parking.
Alas, many of the above-mentioned revenue enhancements will not be adopted if for no other reason than that the Fine Arts Commission would wrangle into administrative gridlock over the designs of the toll booths and turnstile installations.