2012 Articles, Editorials, Letters to the Editor
Charting Fort Monroe’s path through other closed bases
former Griffiss Air Force base is now a business and technology park. (Robert Brauchle, Daily Press / November 13, 2012)
December 26, 2012
The clang and racket familiar to 19th century textile factories is still heard here in the ground floor of the National Park Service’s Boott Cotton Mills Museum
Guided tours of this operating weave room — earplugs are included — are among the interactive exhibits about the rise and fall of industry here.
That feel is something officials at Fort Monroe hope to emulate.
“Our goal is to work closely so people don’t think about the intricacies of whether they’re on park service land or commonwealth land,” said Fort Monroe National Monument Superintendent Kirsten Talken-Spaulding.
Several factors beyond the park service rangers in their green and gray uniforms protect the historic qualities of both Fort Monroe and Lowell National Historical Park.
More than 100 acres of downtown Lowell’s man-made canal system and large mill buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Being included on the register means Lowell must ensure that any development within the district’s boundaries is consistent with the 19th-century setting the city wants to preserve, said Lowell Planning and Development Director Adam Baacke.
Any significant project within that area must be approved by the Lowell Historic Board before it reaches city planners and the City Council.
“The business community and city leadership have really embraced historic preservation,” said Peter Aucella, assistant superintendent for Lowell National Historic Park. “All of these things didn’t come together by accident.”
At Fort Monroe, the entire 565-acre property is listed on the historic register, even though only 325 acres are within the national monument created in 2011.
While the national monument proclamation comes with the glitz and glamour of the park service presence, the historic register listing provides the teeth to preserve Fort Monroe’s history.
A historic preservation officer will review proposed projects to make sure they comply with the property’s design standards, which are detailed in a two-volume, 633-page manual available on the Fort Monroe Authority’s website.
The standards, the document says, “shall be applied to all undertakings at Fort Monroe, including building rehabilitation, new construction, maintenance, or any activity that has the potential to affect historic resources directly or indirectly.”
Using the park service sites and public financing incentives as carrots, the city of Lowell has enticed private developers to repurpose the city’s historic mill building buildings, once thought to be relics of the city’s industrial past.
It’s taken close to 40 years, but the economy in downtown Lowell is flourishing, city officials said.
“That designation from the National Park Service put Lowell in the same pantheon as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone … which reinforced this place as being something very special,” Baacke said.
The federal government can help fund the reuse of historic buildings, which are the “building blocks of a new future for Fort Monroe,” according to National Trust for Historic Preservation Vice President David Brown.
“So while the future of Fort Monroe is being decided, we urge the stewards of this national treasure … to recognize the important role that our historic resources play in strengthening our economies,” Brown wrote on the organization’s website. “We urge them to seize the tremendous opportunity at Fort Monroe to preserve our history and revitalize our communities.”
One method of doing so is through historic tax credits — the Chamberlin on Fort Monroe used such incentives to fund its $55 million renovation.
While criticized by some as free handouts to private companies, historic tax credits available through the National Park Service have helped draw developers, Lowell officials said.
“Close to 5 million square feet of unused mill buildings have been put back to use by developers using those tax credits,” Baacke said. “The local historic board ensures guidelines are met and it’s a method of transparent funding that developers are looking for to make their projects feasible.”
In some cases, private companies and public officials have combined forces to spur investment.
A public/private mix
The Lowell Plan is a nonprofit economic development group that includes representatives from the business community, the heads of local colleges, the national park superintendent and city officials.
The semi-private group has funded studies, bought and marketed buildings and organized festivals throughout the city.
“We can talk to people about community pride and spirit, but to be honest and to cut to the chase, we really want them to know that investing in Lowell is going to be good business for them,” said Lowell Plan Executive Director James Cook. “We know there’s a strong self interest to invest here, so we’re building a stronger community by attracting investment here.”
Fort Monroe Authority Executive Director Glenn Oder said the authority’s relationship with private developers and the benefits a public/private partnership could bring to Old Point Comfort are both on his mind.
“We’re working on putting together these programming and planning concepts,” Oder said.
Could a group patterned after The Lowell Plan work at Fort Monroe? What would its role be?
“Our core strategy can be replicated anywhere,” Cook said. “I don’t know why it hasn’t been, to be frank.”
Economics on the forefront
Making Fort Monroe economically independent is a priority for the Fort Monroe Authority, Oder said.
With every proposal, “I have to ask myself, ‘How am I going to pay for this?’” Oder said in a late October interview.
The authority will receive about $6.2 million from the state and federal governments in the 2013 fiscal year. That money won’t be available forever, Oder said.
Sasaki Associates — the firm creating Fort Monroe’s master plan — reported recently that if Fort Monroe continues with its current economic model, it will likely operate with an annual budget shortage of more than $3 million for years to come.
“You’re going to have to bridge that economic gap,” Sasaki principal Fred Merrill said. “You need to enhance your revenues by finding a lot of small funding sources and reworking your agreements with everyone, including the city.”
But money alone cannot be the deciding factor. Any projects planned for Fort Monroe had better be in line with the historic beauty of the site, said Baacke, Lowell’s planning and development director.
“The national park reinforces this virtuous cycle that this is a special place because of the park,” he said, “and creating a beautiful area around it only enforces the belief that it is a special place.”
Tomorrow: Local officials can learn from other closed bases.
National Registered Historic Landmark
Lowell Historic National Park
A 142-acre Park District and an adjacent and overlapping 583-acre Historic Preservation District that represent “an innovative park concept that provides for an historical/cultural park in a living, working, urban environment.”
The park includes 5.6 miles of canals, the locks controlling the water through those canals. and a series of sites and buildings throughout the city’s downtown that are considered important to the city’s manufacturing era.
Lowell National Trust for Historic Preservation: http://www.preservationnation.org/travel-and-sites/travel/dozen-distinctive-destinations/locations/lowell-ma-2000.html#.UK_lCmdc98E
Lowell Historic Board: http://www.lowellma.gov/depts/historic-board
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960, the fort and surrounding buildings, structures, and land make up the 565-acre National Historic Landmark District.
Fort Monroe National Trust for Historic Preservation: http://savingplaces.org/our-vision-fort-monroe
Fort Monroe Historic Preservation: http://fmauthority.com/the-authority/about-the-authority/heritage-assetshistoric-preservation
For more information:
Lowell Historic Board: http://www.lowellma.gov/depts/historic-board
The Lowell Plan: http://www.thelowellplan.org
National Park Service Historic Preservation Tax Incentives: http://www.nps.gov/tps/tax-incentives.htm
Source: Federal Tax Incentives for Rehabilitation Historic Buildings 2011 Annual Report
Lessons for Fort Monroe at Fort Stanwix: An urban national monument
Fortification has been on protected land since the 1970s
Local officials are looking to other regions for ideas and lessons
Hampton NOTEBOOK / Robert Brauchle
Public speaking too restricted?
Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom of Speech” painting was first published in 1943 to help drum up patriotism and the sale of U.S. war bonds.
If you aren’t familiar with the painting by name, it depicts a working class man in a well worn bomber jacket standing among a group of other people who are sitting and focusing their attention on him. He is presumably speaking at a public meeting.
“He is the very embodiment of free speech, a living manifestation of that abstract right,” wrote art historian Bruce Cole in a Wall Street Journal article about Rockwell’s Four Freedoms series.
In contemporary times, most public bodies mandate that speakers fill out cards stating their name, address and the topic they would like to speak about. The speaker must go to a podium and is more often than not given a time limit.
The man in Rockwell’s painting is clearly breaking the rules set by most public bodies today. And the rules in Hampton are very much being enforced these days.
Former state Del. Tom Gear was detained and charged with trespassing (the charge since has been dropped) after he questioned City Council members on their knowledge of a police cigarette sting.
Speakers at the Dec. 13 Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees meeting were each given just 60 seconds to speak – they were told the meeting was running long so therefore the public comment period was being cut short.
“But there’s so much to talk about,” Adrian Whitcomb huffed.*
So how did we get to this point? At what point are the rules too restrictive for the public to speak at meetings held by public bodies? When did Rockwell’s vision of our freedom of speech become so contorted?
Daily Press, Hampton Town Square Section, page 1, December 20, 2012
Moreover, a green Wherry could play a major role in this extra revenue generation. By enhancing Fort Monroe’s beauty and historic ambience, it would help attract high-profile anchor tenants, who in turn would attract other tenants–to say nothing of increasing the whole region’s appeal to knowledge-based and creative businesses that appreciate a high quality of life. It would also attract tourists and repeat local visitors, an income source the FMA must find ways to tap to achieve self-sustainability. And Wherry Park itself could figure directly in the latter enterprise as, for example, a venue for large-scale outdoor events like concerts.
Preserving the Wherry Quarter
The issueThe state’s property at Fort Monroe is being considered for limited development.
Where we stand The General Assembly was clear that the state property should be added to the new National Park.
©November 9, 2012
The next steps at Fort Monroe
Posted to: Guest ColumnsOpinion
By Scott Butler
© November 6, 2012
Representatives of the Fort Monroe Authority have time and again offered three general goals for shaping the future of the state-owned parts of the historic site – preserve the property, tell the story and achieve economic independence.
The first two goals imply that Fort Monroe should exist primarily for the public’s enjoyment and enlightenment. Otherwise, why not bulldoze the historic buildings, replace them with new construction and forget about interpreting the fort’s remarkable history?
These goals suggest a more encompassing one – enhance Fort Monroe’s character as a grand public place. In light of this larger goal, the property in “preserve the property” should include its natural landscape.
Certainly, the public thinks so. Over the last five years, every index of public opinion about Fort Monroe – from informal newspaper polls to the 7,000 signers of a Hampton petition to the 1,300 signers of a regional survey – has shown overwhelming support not only for historic preservation but also for as much green space as possible. (For evidence, visit www.fortmonroecitizens.org and click on the “power points” link).
The third goal, economic independence, obviously should not be attained at the expense of the other two goals – that is, at the expense of a grand public place. Nor does it have to be.
The FMA can generate revenue in a variety of ways that don’t compromise its overall mission. It can lease or sell the historic residences and buildings (with rigorous preservation standards in place), develop the industrial North Gate area next to the historic village and bring in tourism income from kayak rentals, weddings, audio headset tours, parking, modest annual fees for local visitors, large-scale outdoor events and so on.
What it cannot do without undermining its mission is develop the main section of the Wherry Quarter, an area of approximately 50 acres on the Chesapeake Bay that lies between the two parts of the Fort Monroe National Monument.
A developed Wherry would fragment the sense of public space and diminish Fort Monroe’s natural beauty and historic ambience. A Wherry Park, on the other hand, would help Fort Monroe achieve its full potential as a great urban park and a national and international destination.
Sasaki Associates, a consulting firm hired by the FMA to develop a plan for the state-owned property, has proposed several alternative visions of Wherry, most of which show a mix of development and green space.
Sasaki’s assumption would seem to be that park space, while nice for the public, means lost revenue. Even if this were true, maximizing revenue has never been the FMA’s intention. Both FMA Executive Director Glenn Oder and FMA Chairwoman Terrie Suit have said the FMA’s concern is that Fort Monroe becomes self-sustaining, not that it makes a profit.
But there is good reason to believe that a Wherry Park would have a positive economic impact.
Following low points in 2008-09, tourism revenue in Virginia is on the rise: $20 billion in 2011, an 8 percent increase over the previous year. A green Wherry would boost Fort Monroe’s appeal to tourists and therefore tourism revenue for the FMA and – no less importantly – for Hampton and the region.
Moreover, Virginia’s national park sites contributed $493 million to local economies in 2010 and presumably added even more in 2011.
Incorporating Wherry Park into the existing national monument (along with the Irwin and Parrott batteries on the south waterfront) would strengthen Fort Monroe’s National Park Service brand, so attractive to tourists, and further stimulate tourism revenue.
To remain faithful to its own goals for Fort Monroe, provide citizens with the grand public place they desire and turn the site into an economic engine for Hampton and the region, the Fort Monroe Authority must make the creation of Wherry Park a top priority.
Scott Butler, a member of the board of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, lives in Newport News. Email: email@example.com.
Group Moves Toward Fort Monroe Goal
Robert Brauchle, Hampton Neighborhood Section of Daily Press, October 18, 2012, page 2
Q: What are some of the efforts the Citizens are doing to accomplish their goal of expanding the National Park Service monument area? First, a word about our goal. Fort Monroe National Monument is split into two parts by an area called the Wherry Quarter. We want to add 50 or so continuous acres of Wherry to the Monument, plus Batteries Irwin and Parrott and the land they occupy along the south waterfront. Why? To begin with, development in this area would simply be wrong. As the president of Trust for Public Land says of a similar situation, “It’s like putting a fast food chain in the middle of the National Mall.” Also, these additions to the Monument will preserve Fort Monroe’s historic ambience, enhance its recreational appeal, and strengthen the National Park Service brand–all of which will help attract visitors and thus create a permanent revenue stream for Fort Monroe and the region. What’s at issue is vision. The state needs a broader vision of Fort Monroe’s significance as a grand public place.
As to our efforts, CFMNP has been actively working to demonstrate to the Fort Monroe Authority (FMA) and its planners, Sasaki, that this expansion is the desire of the vast majority of citizens. The public’s desire has shown itself, time and again, at public meetings, on the Sasaki participatory website, and by 98% of those completing a survey in which over 1300 citizens have voted their preferences thus far. We also continue to make our case to the FMA that preservation of these properties is the best choice for both cultural and economic reasons.
Q: Are there specific state or federal representatives people should contact to lobby for that extended monument area? For now, we suggest limiting your advocacy to the state level. Please tell the state officials below that the 50 acres of Wherry between the Monument areas plus the south waterfront containing batteries Irwin and Parrott should be preserved from development and slated for inclusion in Fort Monroe National Monument:
Glenn Oder Executive Director, Fort Monroe Authority Old Quarters #1 151 Bernard Road
Fort Monroe, VA 23651 Telephone: 757-251-2748 E-mail: http://www.fmauthority.com/contact-us
Governor Bob McDonnell Office of the Governor Patrick Henry Building, 3rd Floor 1111 East Broad Street Richmond, Virginia 23219 Telephone: (804) 786-2211
E-mail the Governor at http://www.governor.virginia.gov (click on “Contact us.”)
Your state Senator and House of Delegates member. For the district containing
Fort Monroe, these would be Senator Mamie Locke and Delegate Gordon Helsel. For contact information, go to http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/ and click on the link in the FAQ answer to “How do I contact my legislator?”
You can also make your views known on the Sasaki website when it opens again in the next few days: http://ideas.fmauthority.com
Once these properties are designated by Virginia for preservation and addition to the National Monument, the time will be right to approach Congress and/or the President to seek authority to add these 60-65 acres (much of Wherry plus the two batteries) to the National Monument, and perhaps add Fort Wool too. We are confident the National Park Service is open to, and likely enthusiastic about, adding the Wherry Quarter lands to the Monument.
Q: Sasaki recently unveiled some options for Fort Monroe, what are your thoughts about those plans? Option B, the parkland option for Wherry, is the best by far, with one qualification: it allows for tourist-oriented development in the northwest corner of Wherry. Any such development would be better placed in the southwest part of Wherry paralleling the west side of the fortress, where it wouldn’t interfere with adding 50 or so continuous acres of Wherry to the National Monument.
Q: Is there any concern about overdeveloping the west side of the property to make up for the added green space on the east side? If you mean the Historic Village and the industrial North Gate areas, then generally no. We believe the programmatic agreement, the design guidelines and the public participation procedures will act to assure that development in these parts is appropriate and adds value to the National Monument and entire property. A relatively dense fortress town on the west side of the Fort Monroe peninsula, with amenities for visitors and residents, works well with an expanded National Monument and its green landscape. It would create a pleasing and very appealing contrast that is relatively rare in the eastern United States. But if you mean the Mill Creek side of Wherry, we definitely wouldn’t want to see a new line of houses, apartments, or commercial buildings there, although we wouldn’t object to compatible construction in the southwest finger of Wherry behind the fortress.
Q: If people want to know more about the Citizens mission, is there are [sic] website they should visit? Our website address is fortmonroecitizens.org. The homepage has detailed discussions of Wherry, Sasaki’s options for Wherry in its Master Plan, an opportunity to add your opinion to a survey concerning these options, and (fairly far down) directions for using the Sasaki website. But there are also links to other information, including Fort Monroe’s remarkable history, the value of open space, a power-point presentation of citizens’ opinions over the last five years about Fort Monroe’s future, and awards won by our group. Thanks for the chance to share our views!
Mark Perreault and Scott Butler, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park
Please read the CBS News Report below, view the video at
and consider the problems related here and how similar problems would occur if the Wherry Quarter of Fort Monroe is developed.
What should be done with Wherry?
Daily Press Op-ed by Mark Perreault
At the July 26 meeting of the Fort Monroe Authority, Sasaki Associates, the firm in charge of the Fort Monroe planning process, gave an update on its progress. A key issue in the presentation was the future use of the Wherry Quarter, the 72-acre area that separates the two parts of Fort Monroe National Monument. Because Wherry contains no historic buildings and has Bay-facing shoreline, a number of public officials in the years since the base-closure announcement have emphasized its development potential. The public, on the other hand, has repeatedly expressed the desire for as much green space as possible at Fort Monroe (click on the power point link at fortmonroecitizens.org to see the evidence), and this may be why the state board’s previous plan designated Wherry’s use as “to be determined.”
Sasaki presenter Fred Merrill did not alter that designation. Instead, he offered four options for Wherry: a 72-acre park, a narrow green strip along Mill Creek, a narrow green strip along Chesapeake Bay, and a patchwork of parkland and developable areas. The nothing-but-a-park concept is the only one of these options that addresses the public’s wishes; the others don’t even come close. But it would be fair to say that Mr. Merrill downplayed it. He described the optimal Fort Monroe as “a dynamic, family-oriented, 24/7 community” and a thriving Hampton “neighborhood.” He said that nothing should be done to “freeze” Fort Monroe, which has always been characterized by change, and that parkland in Wherry would mean lost revenue for the FMA.
The only benefit of a green Wherry, Mr. Merrill seemed to imply, was that it would make the public happy. But even from just an economic perspective that is actually an enormous benefit. According to land planner Edward T. MacMahon, “Tourism involves more than marketing. It also involves making destinations more appealing. This means conserving and enhancing a destination’s natural assets. It is, after all, the unique heritage, culture, wildlife, or natural beauty … that attracts sightseers in the first place.” A green Wherry would enhance Fort Monroe’s natural beauty and historic ambience by providing striking views of the Bay from the north ramparts of the old fortress, and of the fortress itself–the key historic structure–from Wherry parkland, while linking the fortress and historic quarter (and its amenities, like food, entertainment and lodging) directly to natural lands and thereby making Fort Monroe a recreational oasis (walking, biking, bird-watching, and beach pursuits, etc.) in the middle of Hampton Roads.. It could also be used, profitably, for outdoor events such as arts-and-crafts shows, Chesapeake Bay and nature oriented events, and larger outdoor music or arts events that could not be accommodated in Continental Park. It would thus make Fort Monroe more appealing not only to tourists from afar but also to local visitors, who would keep coming back. And it would attract businesses to the region that value a high quality of life.
Moreover, a green Wherry would allow for the possibility of unifying Fort Monroe National Monument and strengthening the fort’s National Park Service brand. A National Park (or Monument) is the gift that keeps on giving. At a February town-hall meeting on Virginia tourism, the NPS director cited these 2010 statistics: “The 23 million visitors to Virginia’s National Park sites contributed $493 million to local economies and supported 7,000 private-sector jobs.”
Viewed from another perspective than Mr. Merrill’s, then, a green Wherry wouldn’t freeze Fort Monroe; it would invigorate it with tourists and, especially, regular and repeat visitors from within the region, and their dollars.
The Hampton City Council would seem to agree. Under the strong leadership of Mayor Molly Ward it recently passed a resolution that acknowledges the public’s desire for a “large scale open space park” in Wherry, calls for a significant green connection with viewshed protection between the two parts of the Monument, and says it will only support development in Wherry that is tourist-oriented, respectful of open space, and complementary to NPS goals. This translates into plenty of parkland and no residential construction.
Essentially, the FMA must choose between two visions of Wherry: a developed area with limited public use that diminishes the fort’s appeal and provides only short-term revenue, or a beautiful public space that will benefit Fort Monroe and the region both culturally and economically forever. If it listens to the vast majority of Hampton Roads citizens, as well as to its own wisest counsel, it will choose the latter vision. And if it must engage in some new development to ensure the successful preservation and adaptive re-use of the historic buildings, another requisite of Fort Monroe’s success, it will still have options. It can put new construction in the non-historic North Gate area, and following Hampton’s lead, it can devote 20 acres or so of the West Wherry along Mill Creek to tourist-oriented development without adversely impacting a 50-acre large-scale park for that part of Wherry lying between the fortress and the National Monument’s North Beach area. Arguably, the part of Wherry closest to North Gate might also be used for other kinds of development. And once Wherry Park is established, there would be no reason not to begin the process of transferring it (and the two Endicott batteries not yet in the Monument, Batteries Irwin and Parrott) to Fort Monroe National Monument.
To its great credit, the state board has demonstrated a widening vision of Fort Monroe’s significance, culminating in its energetic and successful pursuit of Fort Monroe National Monument. Now to bring its own initiative to fruition, it must widen its vision further to embrace a green Wherry slated for inclusion in the Monument.
Mark Perreault, President
Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park
Above is the unedited version of the op-ed. An edited version appeared online September 21, 2012 and in print September 22, 2012.
Va. awards $2.6M for battlefield preservation
The Associated Press
©September 20, 2012
Virginia is providing $2.6 million in grant funding for the preservation of thousands of acres at Civil War battlefields.
The funding announced Thursday by Gov. Bob McDonnell is heading to preservation groups to shield from development 2,792 acres at battlefields in Appomattox, Chancellorsville, Port Republic and Second Manassas, among others.
The funding is drawn from the state’s Civil War Historic Sites Preservation Fund that McDonnell and the General Assembly established in 2010 to mark the sesquicentennial of the war that divided the nation.
The grant recipients include the Civil War Trust, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust. They’ll match state funds dollar for dollar to obtain easements.
The awards are based on an evaluation process by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
5:14 p.m. EDT, September 5, 2012
City officials say former Army post isn’t safe for elderly, infirm vets
By Robert Brauchle, firstname.lastname@example.org| 757-247-2827September 2, 2012
— State officials planning to build a veterans care center employing upward of 500 people are eyeing just two locations for the project: Fort Monroe and a former state school for disabled pupils.
Virginia officials award grants to help promote local and regional tourism efforts
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Tourism Corporation is planning to award more than $660,000 in grants to 45 tourism initiatives throughout the state.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said Tuesday the marketing grants will help promote local and regional tourism efforts. The groups must match the state grant funds to create marketing projects such as websites, social media and advertisements.
Officials say tourism in Virginia generated $19 billion in revenue in 2010, provided $1.3 billion in state and local taxes and supported more than 200,000 jobs.
Projects receiving grants include promotion for various events such as the Thomas Jefferson Wine Festival and the Crooked Road Music Festival, as well as marketing efforts for tourism in places like Galax and Abington.
Descendant chronicles life of slave at Fort MonroePosted to: HamptonNews
By Sarah Hutchins
©August 12, 2012
Ajena Cason Rogers has spent more than 20 years researching other people’s history through her work with the National Parks Service.
She had heard stories of James Apostles Fields, an escaped slave who went on to graduate from Howard University Law School and serve in the Virginia House of Delegates. Still, it wasn’t until this year that Rogers, a fifth-generation member of the Fields family, took a deeper look at her own family story.
At Fort Monroe on Saturday, Rogers and Drusilla Pair, a family historian and genealogist, chronicled the early part of Fields’ life, including his family’s quest for freedom.
In 1861, three escaped slaves sought freedom with the Union Army at Fort Monroe. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler declared the men “contraband of war” because the Confederates treated them like property and used them as part of their war efforts. As word spread, thousands of slaves – including the Fields family – flocked to Fort Monroe, or “Freedom Fort.”
Rogers and Pair painted scenes of brutality and desperation, strength and hope: a teenage Fields setting out in search of freedom; a mother whipped and betrayed by cruel masters; a dangerous family journey.
In character as Fields’ mother, Rogers sang about watching her children sold and her family fractured.
“I’m troubled, I’m troubled, I’m troubled in mind,” she sang. “If Jesus don’t help me, I surely must die.”
While Rogers had heard pieces of Fields’ story growing up, she said descendants have always focused on his accomplishments, glossing over what it took for him to achieve them.
Four generations of descendants attended the presentation Saturday, including Rogers’ 98-year-old grandmother, Margaret Fields Johnson, who offered her thoughts:
“We’ve got to realize that we’ve come a long way, but we’ve got a long way yet to go.”
Sarah Hutchins, 757-222-5131,email@example.com
Hampton asking for “significant green connection” on Fort Monroe
City Council takes stance on Wherry Quarter
By Robert Brauchle, firstname.lastname@example.org | 757-247-2827
August 9, 2012
HAMPTON — —
The lobbying effort to recast Fort Monroe’s Wherry Quarter into park land has picked up a friend in the Hampton City Council.
The group voted 6-0 Wednesday evening on a resolution calling for the roughly 72-acre area to be turned into a “significant green connection,” between the Inner Moat and Dog Beach.
The council’s action comes as the Fort Monroe creates a master plan for the former Army base at Old Point Comfort. Sasaki Associates, of Boston, continues to solicit public input on how the historic property should be reused once the military transfers ownership of the land.
The city’s interest in Fort Monroe, especially the Wherry Quarter, is an interesting twist for Fort Monroe. The Fort Monroe Authority was created by the state to oversee the base’s planning process, leaving the city with limited day-to-day responsibilities on the property.
City Council members, however, want the group’s position on Fort Monroe publicly known — especially after a spring campaign season where the property’s future was often debated.
“One of the major concerns on the campaign … was the Wherry Quarter itself and the type of development that would go there,” said Councilwoman Chris Snead when asking the resolution be created. “There is a concern among the citizens that they would be excluded from that historic spot.”
Fort Monroe Authority Executive Director Glenn Oder said the city’s stance will be noted during the planning process.
“We consider the city of Hampton and the National Park Service our planning partners and their comments are very important to us as we strive to design a master plan that will preserve the property, tell the story of Fort Monroe, and allow the property to become economically sustainable,” said Oder in a prepared statement.
The City Council’s stance on the Wherry Quarter may hold little water outside of City Hall. The city holds just two seats on the 14-member Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees, which must approve major actions on Fort Monroe. [on the other hand ...]
Any plans for development on Fort Monroe would not need to pass through the City Council to be approved.
Mayor Molly Joseph Ward, who is on the authority board of trustees, said she sees the resolution as a compass for future decisions concerning the Wherry Quarter.
“If myself or anyone on the City Council has to make a decision that affects a lot of people, then we want a direction from the entire group,” Ward said. “This gives us something in writing that definitively says how the council feels as a group.”
The City Council’s resolution states activities in the Wherry Quarter should be limited to “tourism, hospitality, recreation and open space concepts.”
The Wherry Quarter’s future has been the focus of groups concerned about development and public access to the property.
The Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park believes the buildings holding little broad historic value should be demolished, and the National Parks Service should expand the national monument to include the property.
Doing so “will prevent new construction in Wherry that would diminish Fort Monroe’s two basic appeals to visitors: historic architecture and natural beauty,” according to a statement on the citizens group’s website.
Currently, state legislation prohibits the Fort Monroe Authority from selling land in the Wherry Quarter. The land, however, can be leased to prospective residents.
For now, the Wherry Quarter includes 118 housing units, nearly all of which have been vacated because of the decrepit condition of many of the apartments.
Fort Monroe Authority Executive Director Glenn Oder has said the group plans to raze five of the northernmost apartment buildings just east of Battery DeRussy this year.
A copy of the resolution can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/fortmonroecouncil
City of Hampton, Virginia
Resolution Setting Forth City of Hampton Position on Reuse of Fort Monroe Wherry Quarter
Whereas, the City of Hampton has a long standing appreciation and respect for Fort Monroe’s history, its beauty and proximity to the Chesapeake Bay and the opportunities to enjoy the American Great Outdoors; and
WHEREAS, it is the community’s desire to protect Fort Monroe as a grand historic place and keep it open to the public, establish a large scale open space park and foster economic sustainability; and
WHEREAS, it is critical that Fort Monroe’s history be preserved for future generations of Americans, a rich history that has been interconnected with Hampton for over 400 years; and
WHEREAS, the City of Hampton is fully engaged and committed to the on-going FMA initiated master planning activities associated with Fort Monroe’s future; and
Whereas, the August 2008 reuse plan and the April 2009 programmatic agreement provide specific guidance on land uses that should be consistent with future master plans for development at Fort Monroe; and
WHEREAS, for future planning purposes the area defined as the Wherry Quarter should be consistent with plans that support a significant green-connection between the National Park Service National Monument management areas; and
WHEREAS, the Council of the City of Hampton desires to make clear that it is only supportive of development in the Wherry Quarter that is complementary to the National Park Service plans such as that which is limited to tourism, hospitality, recreation and open space concepts and which is of an appropriate scale to the NPS goals and objectives and which does not adversely impact both a significant green-connection and viewshed protection between the two National Park Service National Monument areas; and
Whereas, the City of Hampton is prepared to work closely with all parties interested in ensuring the appropriate concepts for the Wherry Quarter are incorporated into the Fort Monroe master plan. The City of Hampton is fully supportive of all activities in pursuit of ensuring that a significant green-connection and viewshed protection between the two National Park Service National Monument areas with the appropriate tourism, hospitality, recreation and open space concepts between the National Park Service National Monument management areas and the Wherry Quarter area is secured at Fort Monroe.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF HAMPTON, VIRGINIA: That the City of Hampton, Virginia, by its City Council and staff alike, will actively work to encourage federal, state and Fort Monroe Authority officials to realize the vision set forth above for the reuse of the Wherry Quarter area of Fort Monroe.
Adopted at the regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Hampton, Virginia held on August 8, 2012.
Signed by ____________________________ Date _________________
Molly Joseph Ward, Mayor
Attested by ____________________________ Date _________________
Katherine K. Glass, CMC
Clerk of the Council
Regarding the resolution on the Hampton Position on Reuse of Fort Monroe Wherry Quarter: [Comments made prior to passing of the resolution]
If approved, this resolution would be a huge step forward in promoting a grand public place at Fort Monroe, to the long-term cultural and economic benefit of Hampton and the region.
The resolution emphasizes the appeal of Fort Monroe’s natural and recreational resources; it states the community’s desire to “establish a large scale open space park”; as amended this afternoon, it supports “a significant green connection” and “viewshed protection” between the two parts of Fort Monroe National Monument; and it acknowledges the existence and the crucial role of the Monument when it says that any use of Wherry should be “complementary to the National Park Service plans, goals and objectives.”
In all these ways, the resolution supports the public’s clear choice of a green, open-space Wherry.
CFMNP’s ultimate preference would be for an outright declaration that all or most of Wherry should be incorporated into the National Monument; and we will continue to advocate for that outcome. This is the only way Wherry will be protected in perpetuity from development that diminishes Fort Monroe’s appeal to visitors. Even if the Fort Monroe Authority, following the resolution’s guidance, were to limit Wherry development to what is “complementary to the National Park Service plans such as that which is limited to tourism, hospitality, recreation and open space concepts,” some future FMA board might decide to ignore those limitations.
But our goal aside, we certainly recognize the significance of this resolution. It points the FMA in the right direction–that is, toward what the public wants for Fort Monroe, and what is best for Hampton and the region. If it is approved, this will be a proud day for the Hampton City Council.
–Scott Butler, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park
Aug. 12 Letters: Fort Monroe, politics
Social club opens on Fort Monroe
Paradise Ocean Club replaces Bay Breeze Community Center
By Robert Brauchle, email@example.com| 757-247-2827
Three get Civil War Trust honors
By Clint Schemmer
Date published: 6/10/2012
RICHMOND–People have been saving pieces of Civil War battlefields since not long after the guns fell silent at Gettysburg in July of 1863. But such efforts accelerated hugely in the past 30 years, as suburban sprawl and breakneck development spelled the last chance to set aside key places where soldiers in blue and gray fought to the death.Saturday night, three of the giants of that modern battlefield preservation movement were honored here by the Civil War Trust, itself spawned by those three men and their contemporaries.Two Virginians–Edward Wenzel of Vienna and Clark B. “Bud” Hall of Heaths-ville–and Tersh Boasberg of Washington, D.C., received the trust’s Edwin C. Bearrs Lifetime Achievement Award for their decades of devoted work and volunteerism.Each have “demonstrated exceptional merit in and extensive commitment to Civil War battlefield preservation,” according to the trust, the nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated to such efforts:Wenzel fought fiercely to save the Chantilly battlefield in western Fairfax County. Its destruction spurred creation of the first national battlefield advocacy group, the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, based in Fredericksburg. APCWS later merged with the Civil War Trust. Wenzel was also a driving force in the Save the Battlefield Coalition, which waged an against-all-odds battle against a regional mall and mixed-use development on the Second Manassas battlefield site in 1988.That fallout from that ultimately successful crusade led Congress to create the blue-ribbon American Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, whose work remains the blueprint for ongoing governmental and private-sector work to recognize and preserve the best of remaining battlefield properties.Hall campaigned alongside Wenzel to try to preserve Chantilly (known by Confederates as Ox Hill), now the site of housing subdivisions and commercial development, and worked with the brand-new APCWS. Hall founded the Brandy Station Foundation, which defeated two huge development schemes–including a Formula One racetrack–proposed for that cavalry battlefield in Culpeper County. Today, the preserved and interpreted Brandy Station battlefield is one of the trust’s crowning achievements.Boasberg, one of the country’s top land-use and preservation attorneys, provided the legal expertise that made possible some of the movement’s early battlefield preservation victories, including the Manassas and Brandy Station campaigns. His broad vision and Capitol Hill advocacy contributed to lawmakers’ establishment of the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission. In 2010, Boasberg ended a decade-long tenure as chair of Washington’s Historic Preservation Review Board.James Lighthizer, the trust’s president, said the trio–along with one other Virginian and a Virginia museum also honored Saturday night–”represent the epitome of the historic preservation movement.”"Their efforts stretch across decades, demonstrating the way that concerted and consistent work can culminate in monumental achievements that will be felt for generations to come,” he told 400-plus attendees and guests during a banquet at the trust’s 2012 Annual Conference in the former Confederate capital.The trust presented its Carrington Williams Battlefield Preservationist of the Year Award, named for the trust’s first chairman, to Mark Perreault of Norfolk.Perreault co-founded Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, which was instrumental in President Obama’s action last year to create the 96th unit of the National Park System. Fort Monroe was the site of Union Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler’s landmark “contraband decision,” which deemed escaped slaves who reached Union lines to be spoils of war who would not be returned to their masters.The trust presented its Brian C. Pohanka Preservation Organization of the Year Award, named after the late Virginia historian and preservationist Brian Pohanka, to the Museum of the Confederacy, headquartered in Richmond, and the Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison, in Ohio.Clint Schemmer: 540/368-5029
Fort Monroe on cover of Military Officer magazine, June 2012: http://content.yudu.com/A1wra2/201206June/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=
City proclamation given to brother Raymond B. Bottom Jr.
By Robert Brauchle, firstname.lastname@example.org| 757-247-2827
Hampton History Museum honors curator Dorothy Rouse-Bottom with plaque
Fort Monroe monument’s role weighed National Park Service solicits public’s input
By Robert Brauchle, email@example.com | 757-247-2827 7:09 p.m. EDT, April 30, 2012
HAMPTON — Fort Monroe was used for more than 170 years as a strategic military site in Hampton Roads. The National Park Service now wants to know how the former post should be used as a park monument.
The park service held a pair of public meetings Monday to solicit comments about Fort Monroe’s future as it relates to the 325-acre national monument, which includes the north beach and inner moat areas.
For James Kotrch, that means stressing the importance of allowing overnight camping and public gatherings, especially for local Boy Scout troops.
Kotrch, a unit commissioner for Cub Scout Pack 21 and Boy Scout Troop 99, was among more than 100 people who attended the park service’s afternoon meeting at the Chamberlin, on Fenwick Road. A second meeting was held that evening at the same site.
“I see it as a recruiting tool,” said Kotrch, who was wearing a Boy Scout’s signature tan shirt during the meeting. “To have a troop based here, who wouldn’t want that?”
Attendees at the afternoon session said they fear encroachment on the site’s open space. They see Fort Monroe as a being a public place and the site’s history should be made apparent to visitors who don’t already know its significance.
Input from the meetings will be used to create a park monument foundation document, which outlines important themes of the site and how the park service can utilize them to attract and educate visitors.
Draft editions of the document will be brought to the public for feedback in the fall and a final document will be printed in spring 2013, said Andrew Coburn, a National Park Service project manager.
The park service isn’t the only organization asking for public input on Fort Monroe’s future.
In March, Sasaki Associates held a series of forums to gather comments about land that will revert from the Army to the commonwealth. The Boston-based company was hired to create a master plan for that land, about 200 acres largely including the historic village and Wherry Quarter.
During those earlier forums, attendees often spoke about wanting to combine the separate areas of the National Park Service monument areas by including the Wherry Quarter in the park service monument area.
The city has also hired Sasaki to revamp the master plans for Phoebus, Buckroe and downtown Hampton — areas thought to benefit from an economic windfall as Fort Monroe’s popularity with tourists increases.
A public forum will be at 6:30 p.m. on May 17 at the American Legion Post 48, at 221 E. Mellen St., to discuss revamping the existing Phoebus master plan.
The National Park Service will accept comments submitted electronically at its Planning, Environment and Public Comment website: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/FOMR-1
The National Park Service is asking for comments before May 4, although it will continue to take submissions after that date.
Investing in the future of our coast
By Doug Domenech
April 22, 2012 (Daily Press)
This Earth Day is an opportunity to celebrate an important anniversary. For the last 25 years, the Virginia Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program, a network of state and local partners funded through the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, has been finding innovative and resourceful ways to preserve the Commonwealth’s abundant coastal resources. Their investments have helped revitalize the unique character and ecological health that defined Virginia’s coast centuries ago.
Almost 5,000 acres of eelgrass now wave with the ocean tides on the seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore due to the success of the Virginia CZM Program’s multi-partner initiative and $3 million investment, the Virginia Seaside Heritage Pr
Editorial: The next step at Fort Monroe
The Virginian-Pilot © April 13, 2012
The Wherry Quarter, roughly 100 acres of state-owned waterfront land dividing two sections of the new Fort Monroe National Monument, should be permanently set aside as open space and added to the park as soon as possible.
That’s the chief message that residents of Hampton Roads – and beyond – should deliver to two groups preparing plans for the future of 565 acres overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.
One of those efforts is led by the National Park Service, which assumed control of more than half of the fort last fall when President Barack Obama declared it a national monument.
On April 30, park officials will host meetings to hear the public’s thoughts on how the fort’s rich history should be told and how its land should be used. The sessions will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at The Chamberlin on the monument grounds. The public also can make suggestions online at http://goo.gl/MxoQ1 through May 4.
The other effort is led by Sasaki Associates, a Boston-based firm hired by the Fort Monroe Authority to create a master plan for the roughly 240 acres of the fort owned by the state.
The authority intends to lease or sell some of the historic buildings on the property and try to attract limited, compatible development – similar to The Presidio of San Francisco, a historic Army post that’s now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
At a recent public meeting, historic preservationists, civic leaders and residents expressed support for protecting the Wherry Quarter, as they have throughout the long campaign to convert the fort into a national park. The authority is still taking comments online at http://ideas.fmauthority.com.
Protecting the waterfront from development – any development – is critical to securing the integrity of the new national monument. Its value as a historic site, a natural resource and tourist attraction will be degraded if the Wherry Quarter is not preserved.
Various state and federal officials have said they’ve heard that message loud and clear. But let them know again. And keep letting them know until the waterfront is set aside and incorporated in the national monument.