A June 6 Close to Home article argued that Roosevelt Island should lose a large portion of its trees to make room for a music park. This shows a lack of understanding of the history of Roosevelt Island as a monument to President Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1902 Sen. James McMillan (R-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, presented a plan for Washington that included Roosevelt Island as a natural sanctuary without monuments.
When I was a youth during the 1950s and 1960s, Roosevelt Island was maintained as a nature preserve in honor of Roosevelt's conservation work, and it could be reached only by a National Park Service launch that left from the Georgetown side of the Potomac River. There was a small dirt causeway between the island and Virginia, but that was for National Park Service use only.
Interstate 66 was built with pylons resting on the island's southern tip, and that occurred only after a heated public discussion about the wisdom of disturbing the sanctuary.
At about the same time, and perhaps because of that precedent, the stones and statue of Theodore Roosevelt were built in the woods, the launch was retired and public access allowed by footbridge from the Virginia side.
-- Edward Tabor
I congratulate Randall Kogel on discovering Roosevelt Island, but as someone who has been visiting there for decades, I ask that he rein in his enthusiasm. What he calls "cutting the brush and culling the woods" is what naturalists would call "destroying wildlife habitat."
It would be a most ironic way to honor a man Kogel calls an "ardent conservationist."
-- Julie Mangin