Residents of the Wisconsin Avenue corridor in Northwest Washington who have continued to protest construction of an access road cutting through the entrance to Glover-Archbold Park have taken their complaints to Congress.
In a letter sent to D.C. Mayor Marion Barry last week, seven senators wrote that they "strongly oppose the city government's decision to permit the destruction" of part of the park. The legislators, writing at the request of the Tenley and Cleveland Park Emergency Committee, said the land should be transferred to the federal government.
Such a transfer would be in accordance with a 1966 land exchange agreement that granted the District some National Park Service land for freeway use, they said. By allowing private use of the public land, the letter read, the District government is moving to "unilaterally renege on its obligations under a land exchange agreement."
Written on Colorado Democrat Timothy E. Wirth's stationery, the letter was signed by Sens. Wirth, David Durenberger (R-Minn.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Brock Adams (D-Wash.), Robert T. Stafford (R-Vt.), John Heinz (R-Pa.) and Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.).
Fred Greene, director of the D.C. Office of Planning, said the city was within its rights when it allowed the developers, Donohoe Construction Co. and the Holladay Corp., to build an access road to its office building site at 4000 Wisconsin Ave. A D.C. Superior Court judge said in June that the city could allow the disputed construction to begin.
"Given the fact that the matter has exhausted itself through all of the administrative channels . . . the District has to respect the integrity of the process by which the permits to construct the road were issued," Greene said.
Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D-D.C.) wrote to Barry on July 23 asking him to review the matter "and take the necessary action to protect and restore this parkland" and honor the 1966 transfer agreement.
A bill pending before the D.C. Council, introduced by council member Jim Nathanson (D-Ward 3), would transfer the land at the northern entrance to Glover-Archbold Park to the National Park Service. Such an action might hold the city liable to a lawsuit by the developers, Greene said.
"The senators are politicians, and they are attempting to be responsive," he said. "The good part about it is that most of them are really seeking information so that they can make an intelligent decision. That does not bother us."