Irrigation, Lawn Upgrades Close Sections of Lafayette Park

WASHINGTON — A popular spot near the White House known for hosting political protests will partially close throughout the year for a major renovation project.

Workers began making the improvements this month to Lafayette Park, a 7-acre piece of land just north of the White House.

“What we’re doing is installing a high-tech irrigation system to better and more efficiently water the lawns and flowers,” said National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum.

“The current, outdated irrigation system simply doesn’t work,” he explained. “There are broken sprinkler heads. There’s pipe underground that’s broken.”

In addition to installing an irrigation system, workers will also make repairs to the park’s fountains, replace fountain lights with energy-efficient LED lighting, improve stormwater drainage and spruce up the park’s lawns.

Only a third of the park will be closed at any given time over the course of the project, which will last for several months.

“Because it’s very important that the public have access to the park, we’re breaking up the project into three phases,” said Barnum.

Visitors who walk through the area will see work zones closed off with a chain-link fence and signs telling them where they can, and cannot, go.

“It’s a big enough park that with two-thirds of it open at all times, there’s still a lot of room,” said Barnum.

The project began May 1 and is expected to wrap up sometime before the end of the year.

The National Park Service manages the park, which is part of President’s Park — the 82 acres of park lands includes statues, memorials and other structures surrounding the White House.

According to the park service, Lafayette Park was named after the first foreign guest of state to stay at the White House, French General Marquis de Lafayette. Soldiers camped at the park during the War of 1812 and the park has been the site of many political protests and celebrations.

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