May 11, 2018

Van Hollen Secures Commitment from Secretary Zinke to Resolve Glen Echo Park Issue

Zinke:“My commitment: if I have to go personally with you, we’re going to get it done.”

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen has secured a commitment from U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to address the ongoing management issue at Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, Maryland. Senator Van Hollen raised his serious concerns regarding an expiring agreement between the National Park Service and Montgomery County on the management of Glen Echo Park at the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies hearing yesterday. During questioning, Secretary Zinke committed to Senator Van Hollen to solve the issue as soon as possible. A transcript of their remarks is below, and video of the hearing is available here.
SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MD: I want to start with an issue close to home in my state of Maryland, Glen Echo Park. About 16 years ago, back in 2002, the National Park Service and Glen Echo Park entered into a management agreement that gave Montgomery County, Maryland management authority over the park. That agreement is set to expire, very shortly, on June 7th. We’ve been working for about two years to try to get the parties together to negotiate in good faith at the bargaining table. I would like to get your commitment to get your team to the table next week. I can assure you I will get the Montgomery County representatives at the table to finish this up because, if it expires, you are going to create a situation with a lot of chaos and uncertainty.
SECRETARY RYAN ZINKE, INTERIOR: My understanding is that you personally have gone to one of those meetings.
VAN HOLLEN: I have. You’re right, Mr. Secretary, and I hoped after that that we would be able to resolve this quickly.

ZINKE: My commitment: if I have to go personally with you, we’re going to get it done. It’s an important park, and my understanding is the “negotiations” are going well. But I am personally involved in it now.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I’m grateful for that because the clock is ticking. As I said, June 7th is the expiration date. And this is an agreement that actually saves the National Park Service a lot of money. We’ve been raising some of the fees, as Senator Udall said, at parks.
ZINKE: As a former SEAL I haven’t lost many battles, and I don’t intend to lose.
VAN HOLLEN: I look forward to it. Hopefully they can resolve this. But if not, I look forward to sitting down with you, Mr. Secretary. I appreciate that.
ZINKE: They’ll work it out.
VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.
Background: In 2002, the National Park Service transferred management of the Park to Montgomery County. However, the current management agreement between NPS and Montgomery County expires on June 7, 2018. Senator Van Hollen has worked with both parties for the last two years to try to come to a resolution and is increasingly concerned about the future of the agreement, given the impending deadline. Additionally, he has written a letter to Secretary Zinke on this issue. The Senator’s letter can be found here.