It is ironic that while the District of Columbia's bicentennial fast approaches, the statue of the city's greatest public builder slips deeper into oblivion. Gov. Alexander "Boss" Shepherd, whose statue once commanded space in front of the District Building, now surveys only acres of towed and abandoned cars in the city's impoundment lot.

After being moved from the front of the District Building during creation of Western Plaza, Gov. Shepherd spent time on his back in the weeds in a storage lot before being put back on his pedestal in solitary splendor in farthest southwest Washington, next to the Department of Public Works on a road (somewhat over-named Shepherd Parkway SW) reachable only with determination.

At least Gov. Shepherd had a bit of grass and a peaceful vista, but he has been moved again, with the Department of Public Works, to a site surrounded by a high chain link fence topped by barbed wire within a stone's throw of the junked cars. Gov. Shepherd must wonder if this is the final "reward" by the city for his prodigious efforts after the Civil War, which for the first time put flesh on the bones of Pierre L'Enfant's skeleton plan for the District, making possible development of the nation's capital as a major urban area. JOHN P. RICHARDSON Washington