Park service seeks to ban sports from grounds of Washington Monument

WASHINGTON — The National Park Service said it wants to permanently prohibit sports and recreation on the grounds of the Washington Monument, and charge an hourly fee to use 28 athletic fields on the National Mall and in Rock Creek Park.

The Washington Monument is closed until 2019, to modernize its elevator and build a new security screening center at the same time.

The monument grounds were closed for recreational use earlier this year to begin a turf restoration project, and “will remain closed after the project is completed in 2018,” to preserve the sprawling grassy grounds, said park service spokesman Mike Litterst, in an email.

“We’ve been working to maximize our athletic field space in non-memorial/monument areas of the park,” Litterst said.

In addition, the park service is substantially increasing the cost to play softball, kickball, soccer, football and volleyball on its 28 fields — 24 on the Mall and four in Rock Creek Park.

Currently, flat fees are based on administrative costs of processing — in some cases as little as $7 per season, said Litterst.

The proposed fee would be $70 for a two-hour block of time — $30 per hour, plus a $10 administrative fee.

Permitting will shift from the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation to the National Park Service, which owns the fields.

The proposed changes aren’t definite — a public comment period will likely begin Monday, said Litterst.

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