Not so fast, the Fort Reno concert series could still happen

WASHINGTON — There’s a chance the cancelled Fort Reno Summer Concert Series could be revived.

A source close to the situation tells WTOP the National Park Service will meet next week with the concert permit holder to find a reasonable solution.

The event organizer has failed to get a permit from the National Park Service (NPS) for the shows due to a dispute over payment for security. According to Washington City Paper, the Park Service wanted the organizers to hire a U.S. Park Police officer for every show. But, D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh tells WTOP she might have a workaround.

“I’ve been trying to explore whether the National Park Service would accept security via the Metropolitan Police Department,” Cheh says. “And then if they would, can I get the Metropolitan Police Department to provide the security.”

Security aside, Cheh wonders whether more issues are at play: “There’s a ray of hope, but I don’t want people to get too excited until I can figure it out.”

Since 1968, the Fort Reno Summer Concert Series in Tenleytown has provided the public with free entertainment while serving as an incubator for local bands. Musicians don’t get paid; rather, they play to get exposure.

A humble wooden stage on a grassy hill surrounded by trees provides a scenic setting. Positioned on the highest elevation in the city at 429 feet above sea level, Fort Reno protected the capital’s northern borders during the Civil War.

People have fond memories of enjoying free shows sitting on a blanket with a picnic, watching the sun go down, or hearing the jingle of passing ice cream trucks. Even if they didn’t especially like the music on any given night, they relished the experience of just being there.

Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen wants the U.S. Department of the Interior to weigh in on the Fort Reno situation. In a letter to Elaine Hackett, Congressional Liaison to the National Park Service, Van Hollen says that his constituents are concerned about the cancellations.

On Thursday, U.S. Park Police Sgt. Lelani Woods released a statement saying the Fort Reno organizers intended to postpone the shows. The United States Park Police “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 [Park Service] and [Park Police] recognize the importance of the concerts to the community and look forward to further discussions with the permit applicant.”

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