The National Park Service will meet with Fort Reno concert series organizer Amanda MacKaye Monday after Thursday's announcement the series wouldn't be held this year due to the cost of paying for a police officer to be posted at the site.
The series, which has been held in the park every summer for more than 40 years, is in jeopardy because only a month before the first concert, U.S. Park Police requested organizers pay for an officer to be at the concerts before the National Park Service grants them a permit.
In a statement posted to Fort Reno's website Thursday, MacKaye said the associated cost made it impossible to stage the festival.
“U.S. Park Police cited differing reasons as to why this had come up after all these years. The reasons felt vague and when asked for specifics, none were given,” she said. "It will literally double the VERY small budget of the concert series. It will affect how many shows can happen because the money must be paid up front."
Fans of the concert series started a Change.org petition in an attempt to save the 2014 season, and U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sent a letter to an NPS congressional liaison Thursday requesting a review of the matter.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton sent a letter Friday to NPS Superintendent Tara Morrison asking for resolution.
Dear Superintendent Morrison,
I understand that a permitting issue has caused the organizer of the Fort Reno annual summer concert series to cancel this year’s series. The series has provided free entertainment to hundreds of music lovers and families in the District of Columbia and the region since 1968.
Apparently for the first time the National Park Service (NPS) has required the organizer to pay for a full-time U.S. Park Police officer to be in attendance throughout the concert series in order for her to receive the permit. I appreciate that NPS has now scheduled a meeting with the series organizer, Amanda McKay, on Monday.
Time is of the essence. I urge you to resolve this matter at your Monday meeting.
Eleanor Holmes Norton
The Fort Reno concert series, held in Fort Reno Park in the Tenleytown neighborhood, was a D.C. tradition, providing bi-weekly, free, all-ages shows. It was first held in 1968 and it grew alongside the burgeoning hardcore music scene in the 1980s. The bands who played at the festival were wide-ranging, but many were associated with the popular D.C. record label Dischord Records.
The Change.org petition, which will be delivered to the National Park Service, says the concert series “provides families, neighbors, Washingtonians, interns, college students, kids, teens and aging music lovers a place to see local music in a great DC setting.” It currently has more than 300 of the required 500 signatures.
Director of Communications for the National Park Service, Jennifer Mummart, provided NBCWashington with the following statement:
“Today, the National Park Service (NPS) was notified by the permit applicant for the Fort Reno concert series that she intended to postpone the concerts. The United States Park Police (USPP) reached out to the applicant today. The NPS and USPP are reviewing the details of previous permits and previous law enforcement needs related to the concert series. Our primary goal is public safety. Both the NPS and USPP recognize the importance of the concerts to the community and look forward to further discussions with the permit applicant.”