National Park Service sites commemorating the American Revolution period require increased federal funding to stave off further deterioration, an environmental group says. The National Parks Conservation Association said Jan. 3 that its survey of 12 East Coast national park sites found needed building repairs and various other shortcomings.
Thomas Kiernan, the association's president, says the sites "suffer from years and even decades of disgraceful neglect, threatening their survival as places of homage to the heroes of our past."
The survey found that the Park Service needs $15 million to $17 million right away to repair Federal Hall National Monument in lower Manhattan, where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the U.S. The building suffered major damage from the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
In addition, the group says, Old South Meeting House in Boston has a leaky roof and "a serious mold infestation" in its collection of artifacts. In Virginia, the Colonial National Park in Yorktown doesn't have the money to keep up 39 miles of earthworks. Yorktown is the site of the final battle of the Revolutionary War.
In addition, the association says some sites need more personnel and research funding, while others, such as Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania, are threatened by housing developments.
President Bush last year proposed to deal with the Park Service's maintenance backlog by providing $4.9 billion over five years. But Kiernan wants the administration to shift a large portion of the $4.9 billion from maintenance to resource protection and visitor education.
Elaine Sevy, a National Park Service spokesperson, says the NPCA report "raises some good points. More funding is always needed." She adds, "We realize there are a lot of needs...and the backlog [funding program] addresses many of those needs."
For fiscal 2002, Congress increased Park Service maintenance funding 6%, to $481 million, and also boosted the NPS construction account 22%, to $366 million.