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)
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By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.com| 757-247-2827

December 27, 2012
ROME, N.Y. — On a sunny November morning, a dozen or so passenger jets are parked like cars at a repair shop on the tarmac at Griffiss Business and Technology Park.
With a wing missing here, and a tail missing there, these passenger jets are being repaired and overhauled by companies specializing in such services.
The operators of the former Griffiss Air Force Base have found a path toward prosperity in the two-mile runway used by B-52 bombers during the Cold War.
There was no cookie-cutter approach to redeveloping the 3,500-acre base or simple outline for success, said Steve DiMeo, president of the Griffiss Local Development Corp., the group overseeing the property’s redevelopment.
The military closed the facility in 1995 after fears of a communist attack dissolved with the Soviet Union.
“We needed to make sure we had both the political support and the community support for everything we did,” DiMeo said. “Without the community supporting what we wanted to do, we knew we’d have little chance of getting off the ground.”
Sticking to a plan
Even though Griffiss is more than six times the size of Fort Monroe, its owner, Oneida County, faces many of the same challenges — maintaining and upgrading water and sewer lines, roads and buildings and razing unusable buildings.
“It’s really a city within a city,” Oneida County Executive Tony Picente said. “We were left the keys and left to keep the water running and the streets plowed. It was a daunting task at first.”
The development corporation has followed the site’s capital plan with a “religious” zeal, which has saved money over the long term and made the property more attractive to tenants, DiMeo said.
“The secret for us was having a good redevelopment plan,” he said. “There at Fort Monroe, they need to understand the dynamics of the marketplace.”
Using the facility’s 2.2-mile runway and large hangars, Griffiss is now home to a pair of airplane maintenance companies, a distribution warehouse and a small college campus where professors teach avionics. Students can then find employment at those companies located just down the road.
Oneida County still subsidizes the airfield at Griffiss, but revenue from building leases increased 13 percent from 2010 to 2011.
There have been missteps along the way. Most publicly, in 1999 Griffiss hosted a Woodstock-themed festival. Attendees set fire to the concert grounds and reportedly looted numerous vendors during the three-day event.
DiMeo said the facility was “young” at the time and still feeling out its direction.
“If that opportunity came again in 2012, we’d respectfully decline,” he said.
Picente said progress at Griffiss is now reverberating into the surrounding community.
“The leadership had to set a direction in that initial phase and get everyone moving in the same direction,” Picente said.
Fort Devens, Mass.
Fort Devens is a nearly 5,000-acre campus about 38 miles west of Boston. It served as the U.S. Army‘s New England headquarters for seven decades before becoming a civilian community in 2007.
MassDevelopment, the semi-private entity that owns the former fort, has used the open green space to lure tenants such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Response Microwave Inc. and AOA Xinetics (an offshoot of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems) — companies that wanted to erect new buildings.
A block of historic brick buildings known as Vicksburg Square has not fared as well.
Political wrangling and concerns about the financial stability of at least two development proposals have kept Vicksburg Square nearly vacant, according to the Boston Globe.
Glenn Oder, executive director of the Fort Monroe Authority, said finding tenants for Monroe’s historic buildings will be key to preserving their integrity. And he thinks Fort Monroe’s buildings may be in better shape.
“Those buildings at Devens might already been too far gone to be saved,” Oder said of Vicksburg Square.
The market for commercial buildings has dropped in Hampton Roads in the past five years as the economy has struggled, according to consultants creating Fort Monroe’s master plan. But Fort Monroe has seen some initial success attracting residential tenants — more than 100 have moved into homes in the past year, Oder said.
The city of Hampton, state police and a veterans support center have rented office space.
That revenue will help Fort Monroe achieve its goal of being economically sustainable.
The Presidio, Calif.
The Presidio of San Francisco is both a closed military base and National Park Service site. Located along San Francisco Bay, its waterfront location evokes some of the most striking resemblances to Fort Monroe.
The Presidio’s economics, however, differ greatly from Fort Monroe.
The Presidio Trust is a federal entity that has overseen the San Francisco site with the park service since 1996. In comparison, the Commonwealth of Virginia and park service will ultimately control Fort Monroe.
Congress has earmarked millions of dollars for the property over the past 15 years, according to the Presidio Trust’s 2012 annual report, but that support ended in 2012 now that the site has achieved fiscal sustainability.
Fort Monroe’s 2013 budget will include $6.2 million in state and federal funding.
Oder has said the Presidio’s close to 800 buildings provide a larger source of revenue — close to $58 million from leases annually — than could be achieved at Fort Monroe.
On Dec. 13, master planning consultant Sasaki Associates reported that Fort Monroe will likely have an annual operating budget gap of more than $3 million indefinitely based on the current economic model.
“More development is not necessarily the answer,” Oder said. “We need to come up with a strategic development that makes sense.”
“We want what’s best for Fort Monroe,” Oder said. “I believe rising tides raise all ships, and I see Fort Monroe as being that tide.”
Griffiss Air Force Base
Where: Rome, N.Y.
Military purpose: Opened in 1942, missions at Griffiss included fighter interceptors, electronic research, aerial refueling, and bombers. Named after Lt. Col. Townsend Griffiss who was first U.S. airman to be killed in the line of duty in the European Theater in World War II. (He was killed by friendly fire.)
Closure: 1995
Redevelopment: Griffiss Business and Technology Park now includes numerous aviation-based companies and government facilities. Sasaki Associates created the property’s master plan.
Fort Devens
Where: Central Massachusetts
Military purpose: After opening in 1917, the campus served as the U.S. Army’s New England headquarters for 79 years. A portion of the property remains a training center for Army reservists. Named after Civil War Gen. Charles Devens.
Closure: 1996
Redevelopment: A planned community that includes high-tech companies, hotels, homes with nearly 2,100 acres of open space and recreation lands. Sasaki Associates created the property’s master plan.
The Presidio of San Francisco
Where: San Francisco, Calif.
Purpose: The land has been used since the 1770s, first as an outpost by Spain. The U.S. Army took over in 1846.
Closure: 1994
Redevelopment: Now a multi-purpose community and a National Park Service site. Sasaki Associates created the property’s master plan.


Looking for Lessons in a Massachusetts Mill Town
Fort Monroe planners are still trying to decide whether a trolley or water taxi can be used to help visitors get around the property.
By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.com | 757-247-2827
December 26, 2012
LOWELL, MASS. — In the mid-1800s, a seemingly endless stream of Southern cotton was shipped to booming New England cities where the raw material was woven into printed cloth.
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.
Once visitors leave the museum, they can hop on a nearby electric trolley that carries them along in 19th century style. With their wicker seats and hand-crank controls, the cars plod along the tracks, powered by electric cables overhead, stopping at select historic sites downtown.
Wandering past quaint mom-and-pop shops and repurposed mill buildings settled next to museums and historic sites, it isn’t always apparent where Lowell National Historical Park begins and where it ends.
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.
Preserving history
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.”
Harnessing development
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
Fort Monroe
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

As an urban national park site, Fort Stanwix offers some similarities to Fort Monroe.
By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.com| 757-247-2827

December 24, 2012
ROME, N.Y. — Soldiers standing guard at the rural outpost of Fort Stanwix in the 1770s spent countless hours peering through the wood battlements at tall grass and shrubs, searching for signs of friend and foe.
The fort in New York’s Mohawk Valley kept hostile British troops and Native Americans away from the colony’s towns and cities and allowed the government to monitor and tax trappers and travelers heading west.
In 1777, troops here repelled a monthlong siege by British forces trying to advance toward the Hudson Valley. Three years later, troops abandoned the fort, leaving it in disrepair.
For just two decades, Fort Stanwix played an active role in U.S. military history. To honor that involvement, the National Park Service rebuilt the fort in the 1970s as monument to the country’s bicentennial anniversary.
The view from atop the fort’s walls today is a stark contrast.
A nail salon, dry cleaner and hardware stand outside Fort Stanwix National Monument. The blare of car horns and diesel engines from passing traffic is incessant, even in the fort’s inner sanctum.
While the history and creation of Fort Stanwix varies from Fort Monroe, the fortified national park in New York offers a glimpse of what officials in Hampton can expect from the park service monument here.
Stream of visitors
Tourism related to Fort Stanwix has had a multimillion-dollar impact on the city of Rome and the surrounding area, according to a 2011 study on the national monument site.
National Park Service researchers found the park added $3.5 million to the local economy from visitor spending and payroll from jobs directly linked to the park during that year.
The park employed 19 people who received $1.2 million in salaries in 2011.
Those jobs and the 102,874 individual visits to the park meant businesses throughout the region benefited from Fort Stanwix, said Bill Guglielmo, president of the Rome Area Chamber of Commerce.
“The businesses here see results when we hold events at Stanwix,” he said. “Not just here in downtown, but so do the shops and hotels along the highway and at the casino.”
For Stanwix is a 20-minute drive to Turning Stone Resort Casino a major economic engine run by the Oneida Indian Nation.
The Oneida Indian Nation has also provided historical re-enactors during events at Fort Stanwix, said fort superintendent Deborah Conway.
“It’s very important for us to have strong relationships with the community, whether it’s the Rotary Club or the local Native American community,” she said. “We want people to know we’re here and that they can come visit whenever they like.”
Educational role
The National Park Service also has a role in educating people in the surrounding community.
“I’ll be in my uniform at the grocery store and people will come up and ask where I work,” Conway said. “I have to tell them that I work at the Fort Stanwix, the national park. There are people who don’t know we have this gem right in their backyards.”
So what can Fort Monroe officials take from a park site nearly 600 miles away?
For a start, keep the education component. Fort Stanwix invites a stream of school children to tour the site each year.
“They might bring their parents back, and if they have a good time they might come again and again,” Conway said. “When I tell people where I work, I remind them it’s free so its the cheapest date in town.”
Fort Monroe would seem to have several advantages over Fort Stanwix that could lead to a significantly larger economic impact.
Fort Stanwix, at 16 acres, is the size of a large city city. Fort Monroe, at about 560 acres, feels is an entire community.
Fort Stanwix is in the midst of a city, with busy streets on every side. Aside from a visitors center, the only structure on the site is the rebuilt wooden fort itself.
Fort Monroe is a waterfront property with expansive views of the Chesapeake Bay. It includes a number of historic buildings, a marina and acres of usable land. And the moated fort itself is not a re-creation.
“We have the actual original fabric right here,” said Fort Monroe National Monument Superintendent Kirsten Talken-Spaulding. “People really identify with and are attracted to having the actual stone fort.”
Regional resource
The Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau sees Fort Monroe as a regional resource for Hampton, even though the group has not been hired to directly market Fort Monroe, said executive director Sallie Grant-DeVenuti.
“Everyone is still trying to wrap their arms around what will happen there,” Grant-DeVenuti said. “We see it as an asset and we’re using it in our marketing material, but how exactly Fort Monroe fits into the larger picture is still something that is falling into place.”
The visitors bureau is an arm of the city; the state is in charge of marketing Fort Monroe.
Grant-DeVenuti said visitors to Old Point Comfort will likely visit Hampton to eat, shop and spend the night. Not marketing Fort Monroe as an attraction in Hampton would be foolish, she said.
Guglielmo of the Rome Chamber of Commerce would agree.
“The fort is a major plus for everyone down here,” he said. “It’s part of our heritage, and we consider its success quite a feather in the cap of Rome.”
Wednesday: Downtown Lowell, Mass., is part national park.
Good neighbors?
Administrators at Fort Stanwix allowed the grass to grow along a pathway leading up to the entrance in an attempt to recreate the appearance the original fort’s visitors would have experienced in the 1770s.
But complaints about the tall grass trickled into City Hall, forcing the mayor to nudge the park superintendent about the lawn.
The tall grass remains, although its purpose is still a topic among city residents.
The lesson, officials said, is that the park service site needs to be a good steward and a good neighbor.
How they compare
Fort Monroe
Location: A spit of land in Hampton, Va., at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
Size: About 560 acres
National Monument: Created in 2011, includes 325 acres, 90 of which are concentrated around the stone fort. Named a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1960.
Significant history:
Location of the “contraband of war” decision
Launching point for Union forces for the battle of Big Bethel
Site where President Abraham Lincoln directed fighting at Norfolk
Site where the first Africans came ashore on British-occupied land in North America
Fort Stanwix
Location: Rome, N.Y.
Size: 16 acres
National Monument: Created in 1935, includes the entire 16-acre property. The National Park Service and city of Rome rebuilt the wood fort in the 1970s for the country’s bicentennial. The Marinus Willett Collection Management and Education Center opened in 2005.
Significant history:
Served as a “vital link” for travel between the Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes
Repelled a month-long siege by the British and their allies in August 1777
Protected northwest frontier from the British in 1779
Fort was abandoned in 1781 and left to ruin
Source: National Park Service
*** Front Page, Sunday December 23, 2012 ***
Where does the future of Fort Monroe lie?

Local officials are looking to other regions for ideas and lessons

By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.com | 757-247-2827
December 23, 2012
HAMPTON — With an afternoon available between workshops during an October conference in Phoenix, Ariz., Hampton City Manager Mary Bunting joined a bus tour of the former Williams Air Force Base in nearby Mesa.
A few weeks earlier, Fort Monroe Authority Executive Director Glenn Oder motored through the rolling hills of the former Devens Air Force Base in Massachusetts, inspecting the property’s housing stock.
The Fort Monroe Authority will enter 2013 close to having a master plan in hand, but progress toward converting the property from a military base into a civilian community will likely take years. Hoping to learn from the experiences of other regions that have been through base closures, area officials are looking to former military and historic sites to chart a path for Fort Monroe.
They face a list of challenges that includes the reuse of buildings, road and utility improvements, and making the ultimate decision of when and where new development can be built.
Oder and his staff have spoken with directors overseeing sites at Fort Vancouver in Washington, Fort Ord in Monterey, Calif., and others, and have found that while each property is unique, each also has lessons to teach.
Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y., closed in the mid-1990s and was subsequently bought by surrounding Oneida County. Today it is a business and technology park.
Officials there found that maintenance and capital improvement projects have helped cut long-term costs and improve the appearance of the property. Oneida County Executive Tony Picente said they had to view and treat Griffiss as “a city within a city.”
Three miles away in Rome, N.Y., a wooden fort offers a striking backdrop for the stream of motorists visiting the nail salon, laundromat and hardware store nearby. Fort Stanwix is an urban national park, and offers a glimpse of what Fort Monroe could become if commercial development encroaches on the historic property.
In Massachusetts, officials overseeing the former Fort Devens found quick success in landing tenants to build anew on the property. But finding ways to reuse a set of historic buildings known as Vicksburg Square has been slow going.
To the north, the city of Lowell, Mass., stands as an example of how a national park and the city that surrounds it can fit together. More than 100 acres of downtown Lowell are included in Lowell National Historic Park. Where the park begins and the city ends isn’t always apparent.
Oder has said the city, state and National Park Service will need to cooperate to ensure that future visitors pass seamlessly from state- to federally-owned land, and back again.
The National Park Service is creating an outline for the 325 acres it will oversee at Fort Monroe.
A consultant hired to plan the state’s portion of Fort Monroe is expected to finalize its master plan and present it to the governor in mid-2013.
What is most important, state and federal officials say, is not getting things done quickly, but getting them done right.
Tomorrow: A New York city with a wooden fort.
About the series
Officials at Fort Monroe are looking at other regions that have been through base closings, aiming to learn from their experiences. This series looks at a few comparable sites in New England.
Sunday: Those planning the future of Fort Monroe have a lot to learn from the experiences of efforts elsewhere.
Monday: Commercial development has encroached on Fort Stanwix, a historic fort in Rome, N.Y. The view from its parapets includes a dry cleaner and a nail salon.
Wednesday: Lowell, Mass., has turned the heart of its once industrial downtown into a national park. It’s not always easy to tell where the park ends and the city begins.
Thursday: At some former military bases, it has been easy to find companies willing to build new facilities. However, making use of historic buildings presents a challenge.


 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

 *One questions the use of the word “huffed” here. “Asserted” would be a better choice.
Re: “Consultant: Sustainability decades away at Fort Monroe.”
According to the master-plan consultants at the last Fort Monroe Authority meeting, there is no magic revenue bullet for the historic site. None of the three options they presented, including those with aggressive residential or commercial development in Wherry, would make the FMA property self-sustaining. Each economic model requires additional sources of revenue. Also, the amount of shortfall between a developed Wherry and a green Wherry–characterized as an expense never covered, say, by the state parks or the NPS–is the relatively small amount of $.3-$1.5 million per year.
What this means is that there is no compelling financial reason to develop Wherry and thereby diminish Fort Monroe. Instead, the FMA should focus its energies on creating the other sources of revenue it will need anyway.
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.
On the basis of the planners’ recommendations, Wherry Park, not Wherry Office Park or Wherry Bayshore Village, is the best choice for Fort Monroe.
Scott Butler
Board member, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park

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.

The Virginian-Pilot
©November 9, 2012

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the preservation of a portion of Fort Monroe known as the Wherry Quarter “to the maximum extent possible.” The resolution specified that the area, facing the Chesapeake Bay, should be left in a condition suitable for eventual addition to the newly established Fort Monroe National Monument.
The meaning of “maximum extent” is now being hashed out by state officials, and there are several options under review that run counter to the legislature’s intent – and warrant the attention of residents of our region and well beyond.
The Fort Monroe Authority manages roughly 240 acres of state-owned property at the fort, and consultants are currently preparing a master plan. The remainder of the 565-acre fort is operated by the National Park Service.
The state’s general vision is to lease or sell some of the historic buildings and allow limited, low-density development compatible with the existing structures. The goal is to create a plan that will cover the cost of maintaining the land and structures.
For the Wherry Quarter the consultants have proposed several ideas, including two that involve new residential development. Those proposals should be swiftly rejected because they would not adequately preserve the land for later inclusion in the national monument.
Another option calls for leaving much of the Wherry Quarter as open land but allowing a tourism-oriented development – a lodge or similar accommodations – on the northwest corner. In a compromise move, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park – a preservation group that helped win designation of the fort as a national monument – has called for shifting the development to the southwest corner, further from the water.
These options should be rejected, too, because they fail to leave enough of the Bayfront as open space. A tourism-related development is a worthy idea, but there are other areas of the fort where it could be placed.
Virginia officials hope to make their portion of the fort economically self-sustaining. But they need to ensure that in the process they don’t damage the mission of the national monument and, in turn, reduce the economic benefits of the park to the state and region.
The state-owned acreage at the Wherry Quarter divides the national monument in half, and – as the General Assembly has stated -it should be added to the national monument as soon as possible.
Residents of this region and elsewhere have repeatedly and overwhelmingly called for adding the Wherry Quarter since President Barack Obama established the national monument last year.
But supporters of Fort Monroe need to reinforce the message as the state wraps up work on its master plan. Comments can be made at http://ideas.fmauthority.com and www.fmauthority.com/contact-us.
Virginia has an obligation – and a financial incentive – to help the National Park Service present the rich history of Fort Monroe in a high-quality manner.
That story will be best told if the parkland is contiguous and fully accessible to visitors – and if the views of the Bay remain unobstructed by development.



The next steps at Fort Monroe

Posted to: Guest ColumnsOpinion

By Scott Butler
The Virginian-Pilot
© 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: hbutler192@aol.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

When National Parks and “McMansions” meet

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.



Update: Virginia tourism revenues topped $20 billion in 2011; boon felt in Hampton Roads
By Jon Cawley, jcawley@dailypress.com | 757-247-4635
5:14 p.m. EDT, September 5, 2012
Virginia tourism revenue topped $20 billion in 2011 — an 8 percent increase over the previous year that was mirrored by visitor spending in Hampton Roads localities during the same period.
The data was included in a U.S. Travel Association report “The Economic Impact of Domestic Travel on Virginia Counties 2011″ that analyzed information on domestic visitors who traveled at least 50 miles from home. The report listed Virginia Beach — with 2011 visitor expenditures of $1.2 billion — as one of the top five localities impacted by tourism spending.
Norfolk came in seventh place statewide with $690.49 million in revenue (up 7.9 percent from 2010) and Williamsburg claimed the ninth position with $488.48 million (up 6.5 percent). Additionally, Newport News came in 16th with $260.19 million (up 6.5 percent); Hampton placed 19th with $212.76 million (up 7.5 percent); and York rounded out the top 20 with $198.51 million (up 9.1 percent).
The figures appear to be evidence of continued recovery from a prolonged economic recession that thoroughly battered the tourism industry, especially in 2008 and 2009.
“It’s good, but we need to keep in mind where we’re coming from. Revenues are still way below what was achieved in 2007,” said Vinod Agarwal, an Old Dominion University economist who studies the Hampton Roads tourism industry. “It’s not necessarily excellent news.”
Agarwal continued to say economic indicators suggest 2012 will be better than last year — in terms of tourist spending — but it would likely take another couple of years to regain the region’s former luster.
Richard Shreiber, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance, took a more optimistic approach and said efforts to market the region to niche and off-season travelers was paying off.
“All three locations in the Historic Triangle were up 6-9 percent — that’s encouraging,” Shreiber said. “It says the Historic Triangle, as a whole, is prospering to a degree it didn’t a year or two ago. That’s important.”
According to the data, spending by visitors to other Peninsula-area localities included:
•Gloucester: $40.89 million; up 7.5 percent
•Isle of Wight: $35.55 million; up 7.2 percent
•James City County: $355.74 million; up 6.1 percent
•Poquoson: $2.7 million; up 4.7 percent
Tourism-related revenue also provided a total of $1.32 billion in state and local taxes to Virginia localities, according to the data. Of that, spending in Hampton Roads localities generated $159.42 million and $140.49 million respectively in state and local taxes.
In a statement, Gov. Bob McDonnell called tourism “an instant revenue generator for Virginia.”
“Virginia’s tourism industry is bringing in more than $20 billion in revenue and providing more than 207,000 jobs for Virginians across the state,” McDonnell stated, in the release.
Scott Butler1 at 06:37 AM September 06, 2012
The increase in tourism revenue is good news for the state and for Hampton Roads. It should also be good news for Fort Monroe in the coming years, especially if the Fort Monroe Authority, the state board responsible for the property outside of the National Monument areas, acts wisely to enhance the fort’s tourist appeal. This means not only preserving the historic structures (through state ownership and maintenance or private ownership under strict restoration guidelines), but also making the natural environment as beautiful as possible for visitors. The chief means of accomplishing the latter goal would be to turn the Wherry Quarter, the area that divides the parts of Fort Monroe National Monument, into open green space with walking trails, picnic facilities, and access to the Chesapeake Bay shoreline. And having done this, the state should go one crucial step further and transfer Wherry to the National Monument, reinforcing the National Park Service brand and creating a continuous, beautiful national park from the northern ramparts of the old fortress to the north tip of Fort Monroe. If the FMA keeps its eye on the long-term benefits of tourism, it will transform the Historic Triangle into the Historic Quadrangle.
Hampton, Fort Monroe contend for veterans care center
City officials say former Army post isn’t safe for elderly, infirm vets
By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.com| 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.
While lobbying for former Virginia School property, Hampton officials have also actively dissuaded the state Department of Veterans Services from considering Fort Monroe as a site for the 25-acre facility, according to documents obtained by the Daily Press through the Freedom of Information Act.
A state Department of Veterans Services commissioner, however, said many of the city’s criticisms are unfounded.
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services announced last April plans to build the veterans facility in Hampton Roads — citing the area’s growing military population — and asked that sites be submitted for it to review.
This year, the state committed $37 million toward the center that would treat elderly and infirmed veterans. Federal funds would also be needed for the project.
“These are high-paying jobs at a state-of-the-art care facility for veterans that are maybe there for long-term care or recovering from a hospital stay,” Bruce Sturk, Hampton director of federal facilities, said last week. “Hampton is a city that is very welcoming and is very veteran friendly.”
A state Department of Veterans Services spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday it received a request from the Fort Monroe Authority to evaluate a swath of land along Stillwell Drive in the North Gate area, and from the city of Hampton to evaluate the former Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind and Multi-disabled off Shell Road.
Poquoson City Manager Randy Wheeler said the city had conversations with the state about the project and the potential to locate the care center in Poquoson. Poquoson, however, did not have a site that met the state’s criteria, he said.
The existing Hampton VA Medical Center campus is not being considered for the project, although state Veterans Service Department officials have said the new facility should be located close to the VA Medical Center.
The state is expected to announce its decision in mid-November.
City concerns
Documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act outline the city’s concerns with building a veterans care center at Fort Monroe.
City Manager Mary Bunting, Police Chief Charles “Chuck” Jordan, Fire Chief David Layman, and Emergency Services Coordinator Hui-Shan Walker, all penned letters contending:
•Fort Monroe can flood in severe weather
•Evacuating 240 people from the Fort Monroe peninsula would be difficult
•Fort Monroe’s strict design standards would increase construction costs
The city included an elevation contour map and flood insurance rate map of Fort Monroe in its correspondence submitted to the state.
“Indeed, if this facility is built at Fort Monroe and should a major storm erupt, those residing at the facility would be put at high risk for potential injuries if not casualties,” Jordan wrote. “Evacuations would be required which would be another factor that could compromise the residents’ safety because of the existence of only one main entrance to and from the island.”
Sturk echoed those concerns Thursday, although he said he didn’t know Fort Monroe officials submitted sites for review until told by the Daily Press.
“From a public safety standpoint, there are some concerns with flooding around that North Gate area,” he said.
Bill Janis, the deputy commissioner in the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, said he has concerns with Hampton’s approach to the Fort Monroe site.
“I looked at the city’s letter and was flattered that they were aggressive to court us with their specific site, [flattered?] but I guess I took a little bit of umbrage in Hampton Police’s letter,” Janis said. “The crux of their letter was that they can’t guarantee the safety of our residents and they might wander off somewhere and drown.”
Janis said patients with dementia or other mental illnesses are equipped with technology making sure they stay within the building’s confines.
“The DVS will provide safety and security for our patients and staff,” he said. “And any site in Hampton Roads is a potential ground zero for a hurricane, tropical storm or nor’easter. We have provisions available for any approaching storm.”
The state would also not ask local emergency responders for help evacuating patients ahead of a storm.
“If a storm is coming, then we will know well in advance,” Janis said. “We have the resources available to evacuate them as necessary to acute-care facilities that are safe.”
Monroe’s interest
Fort Monroe Authority Executive Director Glenn Oder said he has submitted three overlapping sites just south of Mill Creek for the state to consider for the project.
“Certainly, there is something fitting about Fort Monroe being a site for veterans,” he said. “But if they say they’re interested in Fort Monroe, then we would go through the same public process with our planning committee and board of trustees that we would go through with anyone who was interested in locating at Fort Monroe.”
Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees Chairwoman Terrie L. Suit said she’s open to the opportunity of having a veterans care center locate on the former Army post. She also noted the board of trustees has not discussed the project’s merits.
“We want as many opportunities to come our way as possible,” Suit said. “We’re going to gin up as much interest as possible, even if that means maybe two of every 10 opportunities come to fruition.”
Suit is also the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security for the state. As secretary, she plans to abstain from any votes concerning Fort Monroe and the veterans care center.
“The Fort Monroe Authority has responded to the state’s request that we do indeed have real estate here that they might want to take a look at,” she said.
The state Department of Veterans Services considers the proximity to the VA Medical Center in Phoebus as a “high priority” as it evaluates sites,” Janis said.
Both the former state school property and Fort Monroe are within a seven-mile drive of the VA.
Site issues
Locating the center on Fort Monroe would have its challenges. The Army still owns the property, even though more than 200 acres are expected to revert to the state in the upcoming months.
A portion of Stillwell Drive being offered by the authority does not automatically revert back to the state. Lawyers from the Army and the state are negotiating the future of that 38.8-acre plot.
The commonwealth must have clear title to the property before it can build on it, according to Veterans Services Department documents outlining the project.
The Fort Monroe Authority is also undergoing a master planning process that is not expected to be complete until 2013.
The former school site on Shell Road comes with its own quirks.
Of the 75-acre property, almost 50 acres was obtained by the city of Hampton from the state in 2010 for $2.5 million.
Ownership of the remaining 25 acres is being researched because a clause in the title reverts the property back to the original donating families if the state discontinued the school. No known heirs exist for those families.
The state is asking municipalities to donate the land so the veterans care facility can be built, Janis said.
“We’re not really able to purpose pre-existing facilities,” he said. “But we can change our footprint to an extent so it fits on the property we’re given.”
Interests overlap
The city’s influence on Fort Monroe also does not go much beyond its ability to lobby state and federal officials.
Complicating the relationship between the city and the Fort Monroe Authority concerning the veterans center project is that Mayor Molly Joseph Ward and Vice Mayor George Wallace are voting members of the 14-member Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees which makes decisions concerning the property’s future.
Ward said she agrees Fort Monroe is not a site for infirmed patients, although she said the argument doesn’t hold water for tenants without special needs.
“It’s that high level of care that is a concern,” she said. “I feel that the Virginia School is a good alternate site for that facility because it’s elevation above sea level and its proximity to a number of highways and other medical facilities.”
A message left with state Del. Gordon Helsel, R-Poquoson, who sits on the Fort Monroe Authority Board of Trustees, was not returned.
Economic impact
The state now operates two similar veterans care centers near Roanoke and in Richmond that are at, or near, capacity — both have impacted their respective communities’ economies.
The state has advertised that the Hampton Roads facility would operate with a roughly $20 million annual budget, $16 million of which would be spent on the 400 to 500 jobs associated with the center.
In Richmond, the Sitter and Barfoot Veterans Care Center has 160 beds in three nursing units, two 60-bed skilled nursing care units and a secure 40-bed unit for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It is located on the campus of the McGuire VA Medical Center.
Further west, the Virginia Veterans Care Center has 240 beds and offers long-term care along with a variety of health services. It is adjacent to the Salem VA Medical Center.
“We’re very fortunate to have a hospital of that caliber in our community,” said Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce President Joyce Waugh, of the Virginia Veterans Care Center.
Not only have doctors and other hospital staff moved into the Salem area, but so have families who have relatives staying in the center, she said.
“These are doctors and highly skilled medical staff and a lot of entry-level staff too,” Waugh said. “So these are good jobs and those people will buy from local vendors during their daily lives outside of work.”
Proposed sites
Fort Monroe
Location: Three overlapping sites along Stillwell Road in the North Gate area
Size: About 215 acres will be controlled by the state once the Army transfers ownership of the property
Limitations: Limited access on and off the property, low-lying land, strict design standards
Former Virginia School for the Deaf, Blind and Multi-disabled
Location: 700 Shell Road, Hampton
Size: 76.7 acres
Limitations: A reverter clause mandates 25 acres of the property would need to be used for a purpose similar to the former Virginia School.
Timeline of events
By July 31: Deadline to nominate sites
Aug. 1 to Oct. 31: Sites are evaluated
Nov. 1 to Nov. 16: Site will be selected
Nov. 19: Decision will be made public
Source: Virginia Department of Veterans Services
Fort Monroe North Gate
“The North Gate area spans north from the moat to Mill Creek; today, this area includes storage warehouses, surface parking lots, and garages. This area will most likely be used for new construction that integrates seamlessly with contributing historic structures and creates good addresses within a walkable urban framework. Pedestrian connections should be incorporated throughout, including sidewalks along all streets, crosswalks leading to key destinations, and a public trail along Mill Creek.”
Source: Army Corps of Engineers Fort Monroe Environmental Impact Statement, completed May 2010
Copyright © 2012, Newport News, Va., Daily Press

Virginia officials award grants to help promote local and regional tourism efforts

By Associated Press
3:10 AM EDT, August 15, 2012

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
The Virginian-Pilot
©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,sarah.hutchins@pilotonline.com

Hampton asking for “significant green connection” on Fort Monroe
                     City Council takes stance on Wherry Quarter
By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.com | 757-247-2827
August 9, 2012

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

Monroe perspective
Re: “City asks for park land at Fort Monroe.”
Under the leadership of Hampton Mayor Molly Ward, the Hampton City Council has taken a huge step in expressing a vision of Fort Monroe as a grand public place.
The Council’s resolution calls for a “significant green connection” with “viewshed protection” in the Wherry Quarter, the roughly 72-acres that separate the two parts of Fort Monroe National Monument; and it states that any use of Wherry should be “complementary to National Park Service plans.” In these ways, it supports the public’s clear choice of a green, open-space Wherry that enhances the natural beauty and historic ambience of Fort Monroe.
It does not come out against all development in Wherry, but it opposes residential construction and puts important strictures on tourist-oriented development. It also does not say anything about incorporating Wherry into the National Monument, the only airtight protection of this area from harmful development. But what it does say points the Fort Monroe Authority in the right direction — that is, toward what the public wants for Fort Monroe, and what is best for Hampton and the region.
Scott Butler
Board Member, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park


Social club opens on Fort Monroe

Paradise Ocean Club replaces Bay Breeze Community Center

The pool is open at Paradise Ocean Club on Fort Monroe. (Joe Fudge, Daily Press / July 25, 2012)

By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.com| 757-247-2827

July 26, 2012
HAMPTON — Tuesday afternoon at the Paradise Ocean Club, workers wielding power tools and wearing protective knee pads focused their efforts on an outdoor bar. Close by, children jumped off a diving board into the pool.
The former Bay Breeze Community Center’s new owner, Baxter Simmons Jr., said contractors are hurrying to renovate the facility to catch the summer crowd. Happy with the progress crews have made to date, Simmons opened the outdoor lounge last weekend.
“We really want to get people in here right now,” Simmons said. “Because once they see what we have here, I know they’ll want to return.”
The Paradise Ocean Club will try capitalizing on the popularity of the former military-run community center along Fenwick Road on Fort Monroe.
In similar fashion to its predecessor, admission will be charged at Paradise Ocean Club. Daily and season-long passes are available.”This isn’t a neighborhood pool,” Simmons said. “But we want people to feel comfortable so they can bring their kids here to go swimming while they hang out at the beach or in one of the cabanas.”
At the Paradise Ocean Club, Simmons said live musical performances are scheduled for the expanded outdoor deck. Some mid-level national acts could also be scheduled to perform on an offset stage still being built on the south end of the property.
For food, Simmons said he expects to serve light fare. Items will also be available at an indoor snack bar.
Servers outfitted with electronic remotes will take food and drink orders from sunbathers on the beach, Simmons said. The fenced-in beach allows alcohol to be served throughout the property.
“We have about 600 feet of beachfront here,” he said. “There aren’t many places where you can find that.”
The center will also book catering events for weddings, meetings and holiday parties year round.
Paradise Ocean Club is a piece of the evolving face of Fort Monroe.
The grounds at the former Army post swell on weekdays with children attending summer camps, anglers casting off Engineers Pier and tourists interested in the historic property and Casemate Museum.
The Fort Monroe Authority – the state entity in charge of the property’s day-to-day operations – is in the midst of planning what will happen to the fort’s grounds and existing buildings. Included in that evolution was having an entrepreneur reopen the former community center.
“We had been looking at the property for more than two years as soon as we knew the Army would be vacating,” Simmons said. “There were some challenges we weren’t used to just because we were working with the government, but it’s worked out pretty well.”
Relaxing at the Paradise Ocean Club on Tuesday afternoon were Patrick and Patricia O’Connell.
The couple now manages the neighboring Colonies Travel Park, which includes 19 full and partial recreational vehicle hookup sites, a bathhouse and an administrative building.
“We’ve traveled across the country in our RV,” Pat O’Connell said. “We came back here and thought this was the perfect solution for us.”
Allowing the O’Connells to manage and live in one of the park’s 13 full hookup sites is the relationship Simmons said he was looking for.
“We got really lucky with them,” he said.
This will be the fourth Hampton Roads restaurant owned by Simmons, who is also the son of former Hampton City Councilman Baxter Simmons.
Because the property is still in the Army’s hands, the community center will be sub-leased through the Fort Monroe Authority. The lease will remain in place when the Army transfers those parcels to the National Park Service.
More information about the club can be found at: http://paradiseoceanclub.com/
Baxter Simmons Jr.’s Norfolk businesses
Baxter’s Sports Lounge, opened in December 2005
Snappers, opened in December 2003
3 Way Cafe, opened in may 2010
Paradise Ocean Club: 757-224-0290
Colonies Travel Park: 757-635-0471
At Fort Monroe today
What: Fort Monroe Authority meeting
When: 1 p.m.
Where: Ocean Paradise Club, 490 Fenwick Road
Civil War Trust honors three preservationists
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
Email: cschemmer@freelancestar.comcivilwar.org/ourmissionvideo

Fort Monroe on cover of Military Officer magazine, June 2012: http://content.yudu.com/A1wra2/201206June/resources/index.htm?referrerUrl=


Rouse-Bottom remembered

City proclamation given to brother Raymond B. Bottom Jr.

Photo of Dorothy Rouse-Bottom on the wall with her brother Raymond Bottom after the ceremony. The Hampton History Museum commemorated the life and public works of Dorothy Rouse-Bottom (former DP owner, local philanthropist) tonight at the Hampton History Museum in Hampton. (Joe Fudge, Daily Press / May 7, 2012)

By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.com| 757-247-2827

May 8, 2012
HAMPTON – A woman whose grace, elegance and philanthropy helped create an institution where Hampton’s history could be placed on display was praised Monday night.
A proclamation honoring Dorothy Rouse-Bottom was read at the Hampton History Museum and given to her brother Raymond Bottom Jr. during the event attended by about 60 of her friends, colleagues and admirers.
Rouse-Bottom died in October 2011 at the age of 83.
Prior to the Hampton History Museum’s 2003 opening, Rouse-Bottom funded a lecture as a way to get people interested in the facility. She also helped pay for the purchase of artifacts.
Rouse-Bottom organized conferences on Hampton’s history that marked the 400th anniversaries of the construction of Fort Algernoune at Old Point Comfort and the sacking of the Kecoughtan village. The museum’s Great Hall, where lectures are presented, is named for her.
Rouse-Bottom also helped fund archaeological excavations in downtown Hampton and on the site where the museum now stands on Old Hampton Lane.
She also championed preservation causes for Fort Monroe and lobbied state and federal officials as a member of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park.
Her parents were owners and officers in the Daily Press Inc. In 1983, Rouse-Bottom became editor of the editorial page, a position she held until the company was sold to Tribune Corp. in 1986.
“Everyone knew she had a love for the Peninsula,” said Digby Solomon, president and publisher of the Daily Press Media Group. “She had a passion for history and a love for the Daily Press.”
Will Molineux, a former Daily Press editor, worked with her on the Port Hampton History Foundation and its publishing arm, Port Hampton Press.
“As a newspaper person, she was unbelievably brilliant,” he said.
Molineux said he remembered Rouse-Bottom pushing the newspaper’s coverage of water’s impact on industry and history.
“She was an enormous part of my life,” Hampton Mayor Molly Joseph Ward said. “I do not remember a time when I wasn’t awed by her.”
Museum Curator Michael Cobb described Rouse-Bottom as a “person of great quality.”
As a part of the lecture series she created, Dr. William Kelso, director of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, presented his findings from archaeological digs near Jamestown.


Hampton History Museum honors curator Dorothy Rouse-Bottom with plaque

Dorothy Rouse-Bottom, who died in October 2011, was[will be] honored by the Hampton History Museum on May 7, 2012 (Courtesy Hampton History Museum / May 5, 2012)

David Nicholson, dnicholson@dailypress.com| 757-247-4794

May 5, 2012
Dorothy Rouse-Bottom had a love for Hampton’s history and a passion for telling the city’s story.
Her contributions toward shining a light on that colorful history and enriching its community will be recognized on Monday, May 7, with a city proclamation at the Hampton History Museum.
Museum Curator Michael Cobb called Rouse-Bottom a “visionary” for focusing on the city’s more than 400 years and spearheading efforts to get the word out. Rouse-Bottom, a former owner and editor of the Daily Press, Inc., died in October 2011.
“She had an unsurpassed knowledge and love of Hampton history,” said Cobb, “And from the very beginning, she wanted Hampton to have a first-class facility to tell that story.”
Early on, before the museum opened in 2003, Rouse-Bottom funded the Port Hampton Lecture Series to interest the public in the project. Later, she organized two conferences on Hampton’s history that marked the 400th anniversaries of the construction of Fort Algernoune at Old Point Comfort and the sacking of the Kecoughtan village.
Rouse-Bottom also was involved in funding archaeological excavations in downtown Hampton and on the site where the museum now stands, said Cobb. “She was a leader in initiating interest in excavating,” he said. “Archaeology is a stream of knowledge we get no other way.”
When the museum was built, she underwrote the building of the Great Hall where the lecture series now takes place. Through her generosity, the museum also purchased numerous artifacts such as an 1813 letter written by a woman who describes in great detail the British attack on Hampton during the War of 1812.
Instead of making history dry, Rouse-Bottom brought a warmth and graciousness to her involvement, Cobb said.
“Her enthusiasm and style embraced every endeavor,” he said. “In her presence, you felt you were doing it for the right reason.”
Want to go?
The Hampton History Museum will commemorate the life and public works of Dorothy Rouse-Bottom at 6 p.m. Monday, May 7, at the museum in downtown Hampton. A plaque and a portrait will be dedicated and a proclamation by the city will be introduced by Mayor Molly Joseph Ward. The program is limited to invited guests.
At 7 p.m., the Port Hampton Lecture Series will present William Kelso, director of archaeology for Preservation Virginia. Kelso’s topic will be “Jamestown Rediscovery Project: New Discoveries.” The lecture is free to museum members, $3 for non-members. Call 757-727-1610 for more information.

Fort Monroe monument’s role weighed National Park Service solicits public’s input

By Robert Brauchle, rbrauchle@dailypress.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.