Watergate battles National Park Service over trees blocking river view

A battle is brewing between Watergate residents and the National Park Service.

1 Comment

Long story short

Should the trees be restored to the waterfront's historical accuracy -- or adapted to the preferences of residents in 2011?


Some of the people who live at one of D.C.'s most iconic addresses say their view of the Potomac River -- and their property values -- are threatened by growing sycamore trees.

As part of the Waterfront Improvement Project, the National Park Service planted the fledgling sycamores a year and a half ago in the median between Rock Creek Parkway and a bike path. The agency says it's abiding by a plan established when Congress gave it the land in the 1930s.

"The National Park Service has an obligation to restore any location to its historically accurate condition," spokesman Bill Line said to ABC7.

And grand old sycamores long covered that area until the 1960s, when the Watergate was built.

Residents argue smaller trees would be just as beautiful. They've even offered to pay for the switch, moving the sycamores to another D.C. location.

Wealthy property owners should not dictate what the Park Service does, Line said. "What kind of precedent does this set?"

Liz Sara has a spectacular view of the Potomac from her Watergate coop.

But the young sycamore trees, she says, pose a growing threat to that view.

"Sycamores will grow to over 100 feet," she says. "Without a river view, our property values will go down."

Sara fears as Watergate property values go, so goes Foggy Bottom -- and beyond.

"We're asking them to kindly rethink sticking to a 1930s plan in the year 2011," she says.

Sara says residents have the support of D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and Councilman Jack Evans.

But the National Capital Planning Commission has the final say. Its next meeting is on February 3.

1 Comment