IN AUGUST 1982, the Park Service offered its proposal for the destruction of the 9-hole F Course in East Potomac Park in a draft plan called Alternative B, which called for a duck pond, six more ballfields, more picnic areas, a playground, a half mile of paved roads and additional parking lots.
Most of us think of a "draft" plan as something that can be modified until the best possible result is obtained. But the Park Service "draft" contained only one Alternative A, which was to do nothing at all.
In fact their "draft" was so biased in favor of Alternative B over Alternative A that routine proposals to improve and add drinking fountains and toilets and to repair the seawall were included only in Alternative B. In other words, either you do it our way or not at all.
The Park Service claimed that it wanted to "retain the beauty of the park peninsula and its interstate highway entrance as a gateway to the nation's capital" -- a valid goal. However, the Park Service plan would add paved parking and a half mile of paved roads in what is now open green space. Adding more cars and paving is a strange way to retain the beauty of this major gateway to Washington.
It is quite possible that a hidden purpose in the Park Service plan is to provide more spaces for park-and-riders who are now leaving their cars at East Potomac and shuttling to the Pentagon and elsewhere. Parks should be used as parks -- not parking lots.
If East Potomac Park needs more peak-time parking, there are about 450 places on the existing Park Service lot that could be used by the public on weekends. In fact about 25 spaces in the headquarters lot are now being used to park abandoned automobiles.
Adjacent to this parking lot is a junkyard of completely wrecked cars occupying valuable parkland. These wrecks do not contribute to the Park Service's stated goals for East Potomac Park (nor, does the existing Tourmobile repair shop, gas station and parking garage, also adjacent).
Altogether, the Park Service plan shows a callous disregard for the park and the people who have used it so happily. Why not consider another alternative? I would propose that it contain these elements:
1. Improve and add toilets and drinking fountain facilities and repair the sea wall.
2. Add approximately 75 parking spaces spread out along the existing perimeter roads where they could be used by picknickers. There are four miles of shoreline lawns and walks and many more picnic tables could be added there.
3. Make use of the Park Service's headquarters parking lot on weekends, adding 450 spaces for peak public use, with no expenditure of funds for construction.
4. Convert empty land near the Park Service headquarters from an automobile junkyard, two temporary buildings and vacant space to two new ballfields plus a new soccer field. Picnic tables also can be added on the spacious lawns of the Headquarters Building in a prime location facing the water.
5. Restore the F Course that has been leveled by the Park Service in its efforts to carry out a "draft." The F Course would continue to be used year round, not just on peak summer weekends. This course can still be restored at a reasonable cost.