After abruptly canceling the Fort Reno concert series last week, Fort Reno organizer Amanda MacKaye said the popular free outdoor shows will go on as planned beginning July 7, the outcome of a meeting Monday between MacKaye and National Park Service and U.S. Park Police officials.
The meeting came after MacKaye announced via the Fort Reno Web site Thursday that the series would go dark for the first time in 46 years. At issue was MacKaye's contention that the Park Service and the Police had, with little notice, withheld the series' operating permit until organizers agreed to pay for a police officer to be posted on site at each concert. The additional cost, MacKaye wrote, would have doubled Fort Reno's typical budget.
After the discussions, Fort Reno was granted its permit immediately, and the concert series agreed to pay for the stepped-up security. The first lineup will feature the bands Captivators
Priests and Malatese. The full schedule was announced shortly after the resolution was reached.
In a statement, the National Park Service said it was "pleased that this longstanding community tradition will continue."
MacKaye said that some details have yet to be hammered out, including what form the police presence would take. Police vehicles, she said, would be disruptive to the concerts. "People find it unsettling and unwelcoming," she said. "What else can we do? Can we do people on foot, or on bikes?"
MacKaye has said the cost of paying for such policing would have doubled the concerts' budget, but money wasn't the lone issue. (The services would have cost more than $2,000 for the eight concerts scheduled this summer.)
“It wasn’t such a horrific dollar amount, because it wasn’t insurmountable," said Paul Strauss, one of the District's two elected shadow senators, who helped to arrange Monday's meeting and was in attendance. The goal remains finding a "more appropriate and community-oriented" way to adhere to the new requirement.
After the meeting, MacKaye appeared on the “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” on WAMU with Allan Griffith of the U.S. Park Police and Tara D. Morrison, National Park Service superintendent for Rock Creek Park, to discuss the resolution.
“I think it was a delayed conversation. This is something we all realize we should have scheduled maybe last summer,” Morrison said on the show, adding that Fort Reno's concerts are "something we want to have continue."
“There is a need for Park Police presence during the event, and we didn’t communicate that in a timely manner and in a formal manner to Ms. MacKaye,” she said. Morrison said the need for security as a public safety measure was laid out to MacKaye during the meeting, and that it was “something we’re doing across the board.” She did not specify whether Park Police required such a presence at other concerts in parks managed by the Park Service.
Morrison also indicated that payments would be due, but did not specify what the total amount would be required of Fort Reno, or whether they had changed. MacKaye said in a phone interview last week; she said she received a bill for $2,640 from the Park Police to cover the presence of the officer. Fort Reno's typical budget is between $2,500 and $3,000 a season.
“We’re back on track,” MacKaye said during the show.
Within hours of the cancellation last week, a #SaveFortReno picked up steam on Twitter, and a change.org petition had been created to request that the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police allow the series -- which takes place for several weeks each summer in Tenleytown's Fort Reno Park, a historic Civil War site managed by the Park Service -- to continue.
Connected supporters including Strauss and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also reached out to Park Service officials last week on behalf of the free series, with Strauss assisting in brokering Monday's meeting.
Fort Reno has long served as a showcase for area rock and punk acts including Fugazi and Dismemberment Plan. MacKaye said this year's schedule and list of performers was complete, with the series set to take place over eight concerts July 7-31. She said she had selected such bands as Priests and Title Tracks to perform.
The Fort Reno 2014 schedule
Monday, July 7
Thursday, July 10
Peanut Butter & Dave
Monday, July 14
Baby Bry Bry
Thursday, July 17
Monday, July 21
Alarms & Controls
Thursday, July 24
Monday, July 28
The Raised by Wolves
Thursday, July 31