Editorial | Don’t ban recreation on National Mall
EACH SUMMER, flocks of residents and tourists head to the Mall to attend cultural shows, concerts and amateur sporting events — but that could soon change. In November, the National Park Service announced a draft proposal to permanently ban organized sports and recreational activities on the Washington Monument grounds and dramatically increase the fee s for the other athletic fields on the Mall — from $7 per season to $70 for a two-hour session. The plan, though well-intentioned, should be rethought.
The Mall was created to be an open space dedicated to public activity in its many forms — including recreation. The Park Service’s proposal to limit access to the Mall undermines that mission. While the current fees on the Mall’s athletic fields are too low, and the proposal would bring the Mall in line with other District-area parks, the combination of the ban on some fields and price hikes on others could leave a number of local teams without space to play in a city that offers few other affordable options. The fees could be raised, but more gradually.