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Special Interest Groups Have Bigger Agenda
Copyright DC Watch, March 6, 2003
By Marie Nelson
The Sierra Club's campaign to make Rock Creek Park a car-free zone looks
only to a narrow portion of the environmental interests and not to what
is best for DC overall. Under the guise of saving Klingle Valley, they
have engaged in a high stakes fight to seize Klingle Road and even more
of Beach Drive. Their publications boast about the success of now having
twenty-one miles of Rock Creek Park as a car-free zone. That means miles
of historic parkways, originally designed and dedicated for motor
vehicle use, are inaccessible to those of us who do not choose to bike
or unable to walk. This approach ignores what's in the best overall
public interest of DC.
The local Sierra Club also seems to ignore the fact that the city
intends to rebuild a road in Klingle valley sufficient to support
motorized back hoe truck use and emergency vehicles, and insists that it
will be more expensive to rebuild a road that cars could use. If Sierra
Club condones the rebuilding of the access road, why then is it claiming
it will be too expensive to rebuild the road for public vehicular use?
If costs are the concern, why waste money adding a road called a
hike/bike path? Sierra Club's tactics to close our historic parkways
would have us focus narrowly on a tiny tributary in the Klingle
watershed. This myopic view not only ignores the very real air quality
concerns of our city, it shifts the focus away from serious
environmental concerns. According to the EPA, our biggest water
pollution problem is the Anacostia River (Rated #1 of 36) in northeast
DC. By contrast, Klingle valley, in Ward 3 of northwest DC, is near the
bottom, listed as a "low" priority. Moreover, Ward 3 is the greenest in
the city, having as much green space as the rest of the city combined.
Making Klingle valley a top environmental concern turns reality on its
head, and ignores the true concerns of our urban environment.
Concerned citizens and activists should focus on issues of true gravity.
Significant environmental concerns face our city: We have too many code
red days. Sierra Club is suing DC over air pollution. EPA just
downgraded our air quality rating. Sewers overflow into our streams and
rivers. Our drinking water system is antiquated. At the same time, we
must sustain development and economic revitalization. Over 57
organizations across the city, which include 10 ANCs from wards 1, 3, 4
and 5 who have come out in favor of restoring Klingle Road to its
dedicated purpose. Next week is the hearing on both the Mayor's bill and
the Council's bill. The DC Council has a choice. Be guided by the
grassroots of this city and those who give "great weight," or be guided
by small special interest groups with a narrow agenda.