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Lincoln Park Has New Signs, But Rules Remain the Same

When the National Park Service installed new signs at Capitol Hill’s Lincoln Park in May, the agency was only trying to make the signs easier for visitors to spot. Unfortunately, it may have worked a little too well.

In response to concerns from local residents that National Capital Parks East, which has jurisdiction over the park, had begun a new enforcement campaign in the park, officials decided to remove most of the new signs.

“Our intention was to replace old, worn-out signs and to relocate them from the center of the park to several park entrances,” said John Hale, superintendent for the National Capital Parks East division.

Since NCPE typically places signage at the entrances to its facilities, nearly a dozen of the signs — which read “Park Closes at Dark” — were installed around the Capitol Hill park on East Capitol Street between 11th and 13th streets. The park is a popular destination for dog owners and families.

“We were just trying to make [the parks] uniform,” Hale noted. The park service began removing all but four of the signs last week.

Lights located around the park will also continue to function throughout the evening, Hale said. Recent problems with electrical relays had caused the lights to be shut off, which some residents mistakenly assumed was related to the new signage.

Additionally, U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Scott Fear said officers do not plan to increase patrols of the area.

“The park is frequently patrolled throughout the night,” he said.

While officers may simply request first-time offenders to leave the area, Fear said, after-dusk visitors can be fined, or even arrested for violating federal regulations.

In fact, Hale said he plans to meet with Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners and other officials to discuss the possibility of extending the parks’ hours.

“We are willing to discuss alternative measures in terms of whether or not we should continue to operate in this manner,” Hale said, and later added: “There are good arguments both ways to allow the park to be open later [or not], and we’ll certainly entertain those arguments.”

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Nick Alberti, whose district includes the park, said that as the park’s popularity has increased over the years, it has become a safer area.

“The reality of urban life is that people work late,” Alberti said. “They see the park as something they can use in the evening, to walk the dog or to play with their children, and they often use it after dark.”

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