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The Hampton conundrum: What to do with Fort Monroe?

By Kate Wiltrout
The Virginian-Pilot

A new group that wants 180-year-old Fort Monroe to become a national park after the Army leaves isn’t waiting until next month’s intensive public planning exercise to share its vision for the retiring post .

While still organizing, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park is trying to build support for an economically self-sustaining park modeled after the Presidio in San Francisco.

Headed by Hampton resident H.O. Malone , the grass-roots group has a Web site under construction and this week filed to become a non profit corporation. Its 12 directors include the president of the Norfolk Historical Society, a professional planner and a singer dedicated to telling the story of slaves who escaped to freedom at Fort Monroe during the Civil War.

“When the public realizes that there is a possibility and a way to have a national park instead of another bedroom community with private houses on the public beach, there will be tremendous enthusiasm for it,” said Malone, a former civilian Army historian who worked at the post from 1981 to 1994.

The group’s intent may put it at odds with the city of Hampton, which was given the lead in redeveloping the waterfront locale . The Department of Defense announced last year that it would close the 570-acre post, and the Army is expected to leave in 2010 or 2011.

The city’s Web site notes that the post has 93 acres of developable land and another 105 acres that potentially could be redeveloped.

“I don’t know that we’re going to consider turning the entire thing into nothing but a public park,” said Robert Harper, chairman of Hampton’s Federal Area Development Authority.

The body, made up of seven Hampton residents appointed by the Hampton City Council, has been designated by the federal government as the local redevelopment authority for Fort Monroe.

A 29 -member steering committee recently was created to advise the authority during the planning process.

One of the authority’s main actions was hiring a Florida-based planning firm to spend a week in late July gathering public comment on the post and developing scenarios for redevelopment. The workshop, called a charrette , begins July 21 . Dover, Kohl & Partners out of Coral Gables, Fla., is being paid $490,000 through a federal grant for its work.

Harper said it’s one of the biggest opportunities for the public to share its thoughts on the fort’s future, and if a strong public consensus emerges from the exercise, “it will be looked at.”

While national park proponents say they want to participate constructively in the debate over Fort Monroe, they are frustrated that the city of Hampton has much of the control over the process.

Louis Guy , president of the Norfolk Historical Society, is a director for the group. He compares the moat-encircled stone fort and its environs to other Virginia treasures such as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

“If the Grand Canyon was federal property and the federal government was going to give it up, would you turn it over to Scottsdale, Arizona?” Guy asked. “Gettysburg National Park is not the property of the town of Gettysburg. … We can’t let the federal government off the hook that easy for just turning its back and walking away from this precious resource.”

Harper said the steering committee that advises his authority includes representatives with regional, state and national perspectives.

Rob Nieweg , director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s southern office , is a member of the steering committee.

Nieweg urges any group or individual with a vision for the post to get it on the table next month. He said they have to address practical concerns, too, though – like a way to offset the costs of maintaining the historic structures on the post, which the Army estimates costs almost $15 million annually.

“Any group that wants to present their vision for Fort Monroe should be prepared to argue economics,” Nieweg said. “Any group that wants to be constructive … has to be ready with what amounts to a business plan.”

Though it’s on the other side of the continent, Malone’s group believes there’s a worthy model in the Presidio, which the Army left in 1994 . A federally appointed trust manages the former post’s infrastructure and much of its interior land, which it pays for by leasing its buildings. The park service manages the coastal areas.

Brian DeProfio , an assistant to Hampton’s city manager, acknowledged there has been some confusion about the term “national park.”

“When people talked about a national park to us, what we understood them to mean, up until really this week, is essentially mothball all the buildings and have it a place for people to go and walk around,” DeProfio said.

Now the city understands that advocates of a national park also want to see the buildings occupied, with leased office space and existing homes bringing in revenue.

Still, DeProfio said, there are many unanswered questions. One of the biggest issues is environmental cleanup and the removal of unexploded ordnance from the post , an Army responsibility that’s estimated to cost at least $200 million .

There’s also a formal review required whenever the federal government turns over historic property, which will involve the state Department of Historic Resources, the Army and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“The key issue from our perspective is getting a sense how this will work before we go proposing anything,” DeProfio said. “It’s too early at this point in time to decide on exactly what the appropriate model is for Fort Monroe.”

Malone and members of his group say it’s not too early – and worry that Hampton is actually rushing the planning process. The authority hopes to have finalized a redevelopment plan by early 2007.

Sam Martin , a professional planner and civic leader in Hampton’s Buckroe neighborhood, thinks the city needs to slow down.

“I don’t think there’s enough time for getting citizen input, having time to digest it, and getting it back to the planners. It seems to me the process is moving entirely too fast,” Martin said.

Kevin Hall , a spokesman for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine , also urges patience.

“The state and the federal government have not yet even begun the environmental assessment on the site, much less any consideration of the historic aspects of the property,” Hall said.

“While we can appreciate the interest on the part of Hampton city officials to move quickly, everybody might just want to take a deep breath and let these necessary processes run their course. We don’t need to rush into press conferences with scale models of condo projects.”

• Reach Kate Wiltrout at (757) 446-2629 or kate.wiltrout@pilotonline.com.



2006 Articles, Editorials, Letters to the Editor
NOTE: The archives below contain many links that are no longer operable.

Feasibility study first
Letter to the editor of the Daily Press
13 Dec. 2006
CFMNP‘s Dr. James Stensvaag — who, like CFMNP president Dr. H. O. Malone, is a retired chief historian of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command — replies in a Daily Press letter to a recent op-ed advocating unskeptical faith in the bureaucratic process whereby the Pentagon and Hampton are trying to make Fort Monroe into Hampton’s exploitable economic plum. Read the letter and op-ed.

Hampton doesn’t have what it takes
Letter to the editor of the Daily Press
11 Dec. 2006
As a citizen concerned about the reuse and redevelopment of Fort Monroe, I urge other members of our community to take a close look at Hampton’s Fort Monroe Draft Reuse Plan, which was presented last month. It can be found at the Hampton Public Library and also online at www.hampton.va.us/fort_monroe. It presents three possible scenarios for reuse of this property.

While one of the stated goals of the planning committee has been to limit development and ensure preservation of open, green space for public use, the three scenarios presented are disappointing. In particular, Scenario III proposes building more than 2,000 new single-family and multi-use residential units that will be priced for high-income homeowners. Private ownership of this land suggests a degree of exclusivity that could deny future access to other citizens.

The Federal Area Development Authority, appointed by the Hampton City Council, will meet today to consider adoption of one of these scenarios, which will then be forwarded to the governor for approval. Stewardship of Fort Monroe ceding to Hampton is a troubling prospect, since Hampton has a less than stellar record handling development projects. It is also notable that at least two members of the FADA committee have real estate interests in Hampton.

Citizens who share my apprehension about whether or not Hampton and its City Council have the best plan and resources to care for this historic site can contact Gov. Timothy M. Kaine to express their concern. He can be contacted by e-mail at www.governor .virginia.gov or by phone at 804-786-2211. Perhaps now is the time to petition the governor and state lawmakers for a much more vigorous effort in seeking a partnership with the National Park Service to ensure the preservation of Fort Monroe for the benefit of our entire community.
Barbara A. Young

Fort Monroe’s future
Letter to the editor of the Daily Press
5 Dec. 2006
It is alarming that the city of Hampton has proceeded to expend taxpayer dollars to plan for the development and use of Fort Monroe without having fairly considered all the realities of ownership of such an immense facility. The draft plan, released on Nov. 20, includes little or no mention of the management of the fort by the National Park Service or a joint public-private partnership.

If ever an area was qualified for inclusion in the national park system, it is Fort Monroe. It has historic themes of certain interest to the American public, dating from 1609 to the present. It offers numerous opportunities for community, regional and national adaptive reuse of existing historic buildings and open space.

There is widespread community support for the creation of a park, historic preservation and public use. Fort Monroe is a place of national significance. It is a property that should be managed and preserved for the benefit and use of the American public, not just one small area of the state of Virginia.

It needs to remain basically as it appears today. It should not be just a moat-surrounded stone structure smothered by modern homes and commercial buildings, as envisioned in the draft plan. Imagine how much harm would fall to the visitor experience at Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Battlefield and other such places if massive residential and commercial development crowded the primary areas of interest.

Congress should request and fund a feasibility study of Fort Monroe by the National Park Service. This would give the American public a fair look at what appears to be a very viable way to use and protect Fort Monroe — a national historic park.
Ron Wilson

Getting ready: We must plan ahead for the loss of thousands of jobs
Daily Press editorial
December 3, 2006
A “STRONGER AND MORE DIVERSIFIED ECONOMY,” PREDICTS A NEW ECONOMIC REPORT, WILL EMERGE ON THE VIRGINIA PENINSULA THANKS TO THE POST-ARMY TRANSFORMATION OF FORT MONROE. But first we have to struggle with the serious near-term problems of the transformation, no matter what direction that transformation takes. The Daily Press is trying constructively to lead discussion about all of that. The paper’s Nov. 22 editorial, available further below on this page, illuminated the broad context and stakes of Fort Monroe’s post-Army transformation.  True friends of Fort Monroe will want constructively to join the economic discussion that the Daily Press’s editors are now inviting.

Today’s editorial discusses the findings of a report called The Impact of Military Base Adjustments on the Peninsula Economy. It must be noted that this report early and prominently acknowledges Hampton’s provision of ”staff to help direct and guide this initiative.” Given that a handful of powerful people in Hampton desire – against the wishes of the public – to build upscale residences at the heart of the potential green space for a Fort Monroe National Park, you might worry that the study could be biased. Whether or not it is biased, its final conclusion wisely puts the near-term economic struggle into context. The report concludes:

“Finally, because the economic “shock” to the Peninsula communities will be small relative to the large size of the study area’s economy, the Peninsula can expect to overcome the challenge which will result from the closure of Ft. Monroe and the other base adjustments described in this report. With the reuse of Ft. Monroe and the enhancements now planned for Ft. Eustis along with the retraining of displaced workers, the economy will come through its projected change and emerge with a stronger and more diversified economy.“ 

A question, of course, is what’s meant by reuse in that last sentence. But then, that’s been the main question along.

‘Contraband’ history important for future
2 Dec. 2006
Daily Press
In this op-ed, CFMNP’s Steve Corneliussen argues that we should begin seeing Fort Monroe’s Civil War freedom story not as a story of slaves, but as a story of Americans who have cast off slavery — and that when we do, we’ll also see more clearly how to make Fort Monroe a heritage tourism destination that will transform the Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown into a Historic Rectangle.

Cover Fort Monroe
25 Nov. 2006
In this letter to the editor, Ron Wilson of Norfolk — a friend of CFMNP who completed a thirty-year career with the National Park Service – criticizes the Pilot’s failure to cover the Nov. 20 public meeting re-introducing Hampton’s plan to build upscale residences at the heart of Fort Monroe. (The Pilot edited out part of the letter, but that’s restored in brackets.)

Fort Monroe: Kaine’s decision will script out the fort’s future
22 Nov. 2006
This lengthy Daily Press editorial explains the context and the stakes for Fort Monroe decisions now being made by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. At CFMNP we believe that true friends of Fort Monroe will want to consider visiting the e-mail contact page at the governor’s Web site, http://www.governor.virginia.gov/AboutTheGovernor/contactGovernor.cfm . There they can post brief notes simply urging the governor to consider the editorial before he signs an important, and reportedly imminent, agreement with Hampton. We know from first-hand experience that notes posted on this e-mail contact page are read and taken seriously, and we think this is an important opportunity for doing that.

Responses to re-introduction of Hampton’s plan for Fort Monroe
21 Nov. 2006
Concerning Hampton’s public even re-introducing what the city would do to Fort Monroe if Virginia, or at any rate Richmond, actually gives Hampton control a few years from now when the Army leaves, CFMNP’s Scott Butler has commented just below. See also Kimball Payne’s Daily Press article “Three plans for fort, but zero accord.”

Scott wrote:

Last night’s Dover, Kohl follow-up presentation did not differ essentially from the July presentation.  Victor Dover, who leads Hampton’s planning consulting firm, still offered the same three plans for new development at Fort Monroe.  His comments were, if anything, more insistently about development than before.   He spoke of “underutilized land” and the “challenge” to “make new things work and look as good as the old things.”  Although he said that all of the plans included “a large scale open space,” he added that there would probably be debates about the meaning of “large.”

In justifying development, moreover, he seemed to affirm Hampton’s assumption that it is entitled to exploit the property.  He said that development was “an inevitability” not only to maintain the historic structures but also to make up for Hampton’s loss of revenue when the Army leaves.  Even if one accepts the assertion that Hampton deserves compensation, it does not follow that the city’s ownership and use of Fort Monroe property is the inevitable solution.  A national park status, for example, might well make up for Hampton’s losses.  In the words of a retired National Park employee who attended the meeting, if Phoebus and Hampton become gateway communities to a national park, their residents “will think they died and went to heaven.” 

Mr. Dover also showed two pie charts. One of them might be taken as vaguely supportive of the Hampton Federal Area Development Authority’s efforts: a large percentage of the July public charrette participants considered the planning process to be “on the right track.”  But the other chart, which represented the stated preferences of the respondents, showed an overwhelming interest in historic preservation and open space — just as CFMNP reported at the time.  Only a very small slice of the pie indicated a desire for development.  Thus Mr. Dover’s continued emphasis on development does not reflect the views of the members of the public who participated in the July charrettes.

When Mr. Dover finished his presentation, he invited those in attendance to record their reactions on paper.  But there was no public discussion. Hampton controlled the message.

Is Hampton the best steward for Fort Monroe?

Letters to the editor

15 and 18 Nov. 2006

Daily Press
    In an earlier exchange, CFMNP President H. O. Malone responded to comments and opinions about the Presidio precedent for Fort Monroe that had been expressed by Kevin Grierson of Hampton ‘s Fort Monroe steering committee. Now there’s a new exchange between Mr. Grierson and CFMNP’s Scott Butler. Is Hampton really the best steward for Fort Monroe?

“Hit: Fort’s future”

Virginian-Pilot editorial page

4 Nov. 2006

    Quip from “Hits and Misses” at the bottom of the editorial column: “The feds said this week they’ll pay $26.4 million to repair Fort Monroe’s hurricane ravaged seawall. It was damaged when Hurricane Isabel struck in 2003, and funding for the project at the BRAC-ed base had been halted. But if U.S. officials can find the millions to do seawall repair in Hampton, why can’t they locate the thousands to study whether to turn the fort into a national park when the Army moves out by 2011?”

At Fort Monroe, Visions of Green ($$) over Green Space
Letter to the editor, Virginian-Pilot, 2 Nov. 2006
In your Oct. 27 article “Legal analysis finds Fort Monroe’s land will fall to state after losing,” Robert Crouch, assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness, is quoted as saying that the state regards Fort Monroe as a “treasure” to be shared with Hampton. Also according to the article, state senator Martin Williams “said he had no concerns about state involvement so long as the goal is to increase the revenues for the city.”
    It is obvious that both Crouch and Williams don’t see anything but dollar signs when they look at Fort Monroe. For them, the post is a treasure strictly in the monetary sense. But for the residents of our region, and the people of our nation, Fort Monroe is a very different kind of treasure, one rich with history and natural beauty that all should share. The web site of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park (CFMNP.org) describes and illustrates these bounties.
    Crouch also says, “”What’s the likelihood that Congress is going to plop down $14 million or $15 million a year to maintain it as a park?” He ignores the economic model of the Presidio, a former military post which is now a national park on its way to becoming completely self-sustaining. Managed by a federal trust, the Presidio is already meeting its operating expenses through the commercial leasing and federally managed development of Presidio properties. This isn’t a pie-in-the-sky idea. It is a fact.
    Moreover, with the right status and stewardship, Fort Monroe will become a tourist destination on a par with Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown; and Hampton, as a gateway community, will earn the green stuff that Williams and Crouch are focused on, without sacrificing the green space that almost everyone else cares about.

Scott Butler
Newport News

U.S. to spend millions on Monroe flood defense
Daily Press, 1 Nov. 2006
    A notable sidelight in this article is a quotation from Mr. Robert Harper at the end. Mr. Harper chairs the FADA, the panel acting on behalf of the Hampton City Council in Hampton’s Pentagon-supported effort to have Fort Monroe donated for Hampton’s economic exploitation. A year ago, on 8 Oct. 2005, Mr. Harper wrote in a Daily Press op-ed that the “redevelopment of Fort Monroe offers the citizens of Hampton a tremendous opportunity.” Citizens of Hampton? What about Fort Monroe’s actual owners, the citizens of the United States? In the present article, Mr. Harper refers to Fort Monroe as a national treasure. That shift in emphasis is welcome — just as it would be welcome if Mr. Harper were to help lead toward a national solution for this national treasure.

Keep Monroe public
Letter to the editor, Daily Press, 28 Oct. 2006
    How many acres of Fort Monroe the federal and state governments respectively will own when the Army leaves (“Who will get what on Monroe?” Oct. 21) should not be important. The important thing is that all 570 acres is public land of national historic, cultural and recreational importance on one of the most significant and evocative sites on the Eastern seaboard, Old Point Comfort. As public land, the greater public interest should dictate what occurs here.
    Fortunately there can be no serious dispute about where the public interest lies, either from a national or a state perspective. Fort Monroe should be a great public place, with its historic properties and open space in the hands of a steward and operator who can be counted on to be responsible to that public interest. In the end the only realistic choice for such a steward is a federal trust, working in partnership with the National Park Service in operating an economically self-sustaining national park. The economic and other benefits of such a jewel redound even more to the benefit of Virginia, the region and the city of Hampton than they do nationally, and Virginia should be more than willing to use whatever real estate interests it has at Fort Monroe to help effect this happy outcome.
Mark Perreault
Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, Norfolk

Legal analysis finds Fort Monroe’s land will fall to state after closing
Virginian-Pilot, 27 Oct., 2006
Here’s the Pilot’s article, similar to the Oct. 21 Daily Press report listed below, on the Virginia attorney general’s recent legal opinion that even more of Fort Monroe will revert to the commonwealth than had previously been thought. True friends of Fort Monroe will find themselves in disagreement with the two politicians quoted: Robert Crouch, an assistant to Governor Kaine, and Marty Williams, the state senator whose district includes Fort Monroe. (One true friend’s comment is appended to the article; others might want to write letters to the editor or might want to contact the politicians who seem willing simply to donate a national treasure to one city for economic exploitation.)

Who will get what on Monroe?
Daily Press, 21 Oct. 2006
Kimball Payne reports on the Virginia attorney general’s legal opinion holding that even more of post-Army Fort Monroe reverts to commonwealth ownership than had been thought — and on the silence of officials in both Hampton and Richmond concerning a “private” meeting between Hampton and the governor concerning Fort Monroe’s future.

Preserving open space at Fort Monroe

Letter from Hampton Mayor Ross Kearney to the Daily Press, Oct. 20, 2006

[Please see just below for the answer that Steve Corneliussen has submitted to the Daily Press, and further below for a link to Steve's op-ed that the mayor is responding to.]

Large-scale open space — that was one of the public’s primary desires that came from the Fort Monroe planning sessions this summer. Since then, at the direction of Hampton’s Federal Area Development Authority, which is overseeing the fort’s reuse planning, the opportunities for open space continue to be thoroughly explored.

That’s why Steven Corneliussen’s Oct. 14 op-ed, “Candidates owe us answers on Ft. Monroe,” implying that the heart of the post’s green space will be sacrificed for upscale housing, must be scrutinized.

The reality is that the expansive open areas which exist today on Fort Monroe are part of its unique character. All three of the scenarios that emerged from the public planning workshops call for extensive open space.

Also, Corneliussen’s assertion that our local political leaders have been “AWOL” in the Fort Monroe planning process bears examination. Fort Monroe is a historical treasure, and the members of our congressional delegation have shown, in many ways, that they are committed to its long-term preservation.

Speaking personally as a lifetime resident of the Phoebus community, I have a family history with relatives who were Union soldiers at Fort Monroe during the Civil War. My commitment to this unique and wonderful fortress runs deep. No one is “AWOL” in the Fort Monroe planning process, especially this mayor.

Ross A. Kearney II
Mayor, Hampton


In an Oct. 20 letter, Hampton Mayor Ross A. Kearney II was absolutely right that he and other Hamptonians have worked hard for Fort Monroe. I’ve praised their service in print and on TV, and I believe the mayor when he says he wants a Fort Monroe for his grandchildren to cherish.

Nevertheless a powerful handful of people want the very heart of Fort Monroe’s green space for upscale housing, while pretty much everybody else wants that green space for everybody. I’m not “implying” this. I’m asserting it.

Moreover, the public did not ask for any such misuse of Fort Monroe. Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park’s Scott Butler reports on that problem at http://www.cfmnp.org/white_paper.htm .

And I agreed with the July 5 Virginian-Pilot editorial that, as I reported, called Virginia’s leaders “mostly AWOL” from the Fort Monroe issue, though it’s great to see them now finally focusing.

It’d be even greater, though, to see Mayor Kearney, Hampton, Hampton Roads, Richmond and Washington solve Fort Monroe’s complex jurisdiction problems simply by working together to create some sensible form of self-sustaining national stewardship for this national treasure.

Steven T. Corneliussen

Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park (CFMNP.org)


Fort Monroe National Park: The Clock Is Ticking
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 19 Oct. 2006
Louis Guy, president of the Norfolk Historical Society and CFMNP treasurer, explains why Fort Monroe is a campaign issue — and why state and federal leaders need to take constructive action soon.

Hampton is alone on Fort Monroe’s fate
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 16 Oct. 2006
Key lines from this editorial: “Hampton, or any city, is unsuited for the task of leading this project.” “[N]one of the candidates for U.S. Senate or the 2nd Congressional District, in which the fort is located, have taken a position.”

Candidates owe us answers on Fort Monroe
Daily Press, Oct. 14, 2006
Steve Corneliussen’s op-ed refers to the Richmond-Hampton “rift” reported in the articles listed just below. The op-ed begins: “In the politics of post-Army Fort Monroe, an inevitable crisis has finally surfaced. It shows why journalists and broadcasters should press political candidates for answers about Fort Monroe.”

Competing Plans for Ft Monroe
Oct. 11, 2006
Essay in the blog “Bacon’s Rebellion”
By James Atticus Bowden
Jim Bowden, a prominent conservative in Poquoson and on the Peninsula, writes regularly in Bacon’s Rebellion. In this piece he presents the Fort Monroe National Park idea quite favorably

Two news reports on city-vs.-state Fort Monroe rift
Daily Press and Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 10, 2006
As these two news reports show, it is becoming increasingly obvious that Virginia’s leaders — including U. S. senators and representatives — must take control of the Fort Monroe planning. Ideally, the city of Hampton could decide to press for that too.

Hampton’s role at Fort Monroe is nothing new
Daily Press, Oct. 7, 2006
Charles N. Sapp and Robert Harper Jr.
In this op-ed, two Hampton officials reply to Steve Corneliussen’s Sept. 30 Daily Press op-ed

An end to Hampton’s presumption on fort
Daily Press, Sept. 30, 2006
Virginia’s civic discussion of Fort Monroe has now finally shifted, and it’s no longer simply presumed that Hampton must inevitably and naturally own the post after the Army leaves. This op-ed can be thought of as Steve Corneliussen’s obituary for that presumption, which died in the summer of 2006.
(Two Hampton officials answered this op-ed a week later with an op-ed of their own; it’s included at the bottom of the linked page.)

Why Fort Monroe Matters
Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg), Sept. 13, 2006
CFMNP’s Scott Butler offers reasons why Fort Monroe matters even to Hampton Roads residents who happen to live as far away as Williamsburg.

Fort’s Future

Daily Press, 8 Sept. 2006
In this letter to the editor, CFMNP President H. O. Malone responds to comments and opinions about the Presidio precedent for Fort Monroe that had been expressed earlier by Kevin Grierson of Hampton ‘s Fort Monroe steering committee. We’ve posted three things: first, the full, original version of Dr. Malone’s letter; second, the letter as it was printed in the Daily Press; third, the Aug. 25 Grierson letter that Dr. Malone was answering. (Read letters)


Virginian Pilot, 20 Aug, 2006

Mark Perreault

In this op-ed, CFMNP Vice President Mark Perreault doesn’t address Fort Monroe at all – but as president of the Norfolk Preservation Alliance, speaking about historic preservation in that city, he demonstrates the kind of thinking and leadership Virginia needs for Fort Monroe.

Let’s study every serious Fort Monroe option
Daily Press 5 Aug. 2006 (Please see italic note below.)
By Delegate Tom Gear
In Virginia ‘s House of Delegates, Tom Gear represents the 91st District – which contains Fort Monroe . He’s also a member of Hampton ‘s Fort Monroe committee. In this op-ed, he uses his recent visit to  San Francisco ‘s Presidio to illustrate what he sees as the need for every serious Fort Monroe option to be studied. (Because of an odd e-mail software problem, the op-ed as originally transmitted to the Daily Press was truncated when it appeared on July 28. His follow-up letter to the editor appeared in early August. What we’ve linked to here is the intended text of the original op-ed, combining the two pieces that actually appeared.)

Editorial survey and accompanying letters
Daily Press, 2 August 2006
This is the follow-up to the editorial-page survey (July 25, below) on whether Fort Monroe should become a national park. The results are extremely gratifying. “The great majority — 80 percent — favor national park status,” the editors wrote about the 80 responses they received. “Overwhelmingly, the arguments of park advocates centered around the fort’s historic significance and natural assets and were grounded in a belief that a national treasure requires and deserves a national-level steward.”

CFMNP Secretary Sam Martin comments
Daily Press, 27 July 2006
Sam rebuts the claim that Fort Monroe is a “redevelopment” plum for Hampton, and another letter writer seconds Professor Cuker’s July 22 op-ed calling for a green Fort Monroe. Sam’s letter begins, “In his July 13 letter, ‘Fort’s future,’ Bobby Martin, who strongly supports making the ‘moated’ part of Fort Monroe a national park, says that the rest of the base should be open to development.” (more)

What do you think? Should Fort Monroe become a national park?
Daily Press editorial, 25 July 3006
The Daily Press’s editorial page surveyed readers with the crucial question about Fort Monroe . We received copies of many of the letters submitted in response.  Please see also the entry above for Aug. 2.

So many tables, so many Fort Monroe plans
Daily Press, 23 July 3006
Kimball Payne reported about Saturday’s hands-on, map-marking Fort Monroe design discussion at sixteen tables where citizens spoke with pencils and markers about how they’d like to see Fort Monroe evolve. The “familiar tracks of the day,” Mr. Payne wrote, included “historic preservation in the old stone fort, park space in the north and public beachfront.”

Ideas fly at session on Fort Monroe’s future
Virginian-Pilot, 23 July 2006
Kate Wiltrout’s front-page article in early June introduced Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park to the world. Here she too, like Kimball Payne (see below), reports on Saturday’s hands-on, map-marking Fort Monroe design discussion at sixteen tables where citizens spoke with pencils and markers about how they’d like to see Fort Monroe evolve. “There was general consensus during the five-hour session that the fort’s historic assets — including the nation’s only moated stone fortress — must be preserved, and that the 570-acre base and its beaches should remain accessible to the public,” Ms. Wiltrout wrote.

Defend the fort
Daily Press (letter to the editor), 22 July 2006
    Recently returning to my hometown of Newport News after 24 years, I’ve seen changes on the Peninsula that are vast and even ghastly. But the threat to Fort Monroe is a nightmare we can awaken from before it happens.  
    Old Point Comfort does belong to the Army and it is situated in the city of Hampton , but it is also a designated National Historic Landmark and, as such, belongs to all American citizens. Its prominence in history far predates the bulldozers and prestressed concrete that are waiting to deconstruct what should by all rights be our next national park.
    A few closed-door meetings between city officials and developers can do more harm to our landscape than an entire army of well-wishers. Hampton will not mount a frontal attack on the fort that is out in the open for all to see. If it did, the fort could defend itself as it has for almost two centuries. As things now stand, with insiders who would create ” Hampton ‘s newest neighborhood” for their own profit, we must defend the fort. And our new army should be the National Park Service.

David F. Thomas, Newport News

A green Fort Monroe is definitely the way to go
Daily Press, 22 July 2006
Historic Fort Monroe “is a natural to be taken over by the National Park Service,” wrote Hampton University professor Benjamin Cuker in this op-ed commentary. “The new park’s design should include public access to the beaches, swimming pools, playing fields, fishing pier, boat ramp and marina.” (No kidding: this op-ed sounds almost like someone from Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park wrote it, but Professor Cuker had no contact with us.)

An overall vision for Fort Monroe must come first
Daily Press, 22 July 2006
Robert R. Harper, Jr., chairs the “Federal Area Development Authority” that Hampton’s city council established to spearhead Hampton’s effort to control Fort Monroe’s future. Presidio executive director Craig Middleton, speaking recently on a Virginia talk show, urged Virginia to decide soon who will actually control Fort Monroe’s future. In this op-ed, Mr. Harper tells why he believes it’s important nevertheless for citizens to create a public vision even before this jurisdiction question is decided. At Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park , we respect his reasons, and we can see that Hampton is caught in a complex process that Hampton didn’t invent. We can also see, however, that this process was designed for Camp Swampy or Fort Drab , and not for a national treasure. In the end, the process is not a reason to move Fort Monroe in the wrong direction — and as both local daily newspapers now say, setting that direction is not a job for a single municipality, even one with public servants as valuable as Mr. Harper.

Grab a marker and discuss Fort Monroe
Daily Press, 22 July 2006
Reporter Kimball Payne continued setting the context for Hampton ‘s public planning sessions, this time by describing Saturday’s public design “charrette.” (Please note: the Daily Press is likely very soon to kill the link, though Web access will remain available for online paying subscribers.)

What should we do with Fort Monroe ?
Daily Press, 21 July
In this front-page article, reporter Kimball Payne set the context for Hampton ‘s week of public planning sessions. (Web access is now restricted to online paying subscribers.)

Can citizen participation save Fort Monroe?
Virginian-Pilot, 19 July 2006
Louis Guy is president of the Norfolk Historical Society and treasurer of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park .
In this op-ed he urges regional participation in Hampton ‘s July 2006 public planning meetings.

Fort Monroe: Hampton must generate ideas, but not rush into a plan
Daily Press, 19 July 2006
This editorial continues from the July 16 editorial listed below, this time describing what the editors believe should happen at Hampton ‘s July 2006 public planning meetings.

Hampton can’t handle Fort Monroe
Virginian-Pilot, 18 July 2006
In this letter to the editor, Scott Butler of CFMNP answers the letter of July 15 (please see below) from an assistant to Governor Kaine.

Fort Monroe : A national treasure belongs under the federal or state mantle
Daily Press, 16 July 2006
In this editorial, the Daily Press takes a stand for the principle that no single municipality should be asked to handle a national treasure of the stature of Fort Monroe . (See a special page containing a link to the editorial.)

National park status is the proper way to protect Monroe
Daily Press, 16 July 2006
In this commentary piece the front of the Sunday Outlook section, CFMNP President H.O. Malone and Vice President Mark Perreault present the case for a Fort Monroe National Park . (See a special page containing a link to the article.)

Partner with us to plan the future of Fort Monroe
Virginian-Pilot, 16 July 2006
In this op-ed Robert Harper, Jr., and Hampton Mayor Ross A. Kearney II – officially representing Hampton ‘s interest in Fort Monroe – urge people to participate in Hampton ‘s July 2006 public planning meetings. It is good to see them mention the possibilities of a public trust and of National Park Service involvement. 

Local approach works for Fort Monroe
Virginian-Pilot, 15 July 2006
In this letter to the editor, answered on July 18 by Scott Butler of CFMNP (please see above), Robert P. Crouch, Jr., apparently speaking for the Kaine administration, asserted that Hampton “has rightly taken the lead” on Fort Monroe ‘s “redevelopment.”

Hampton in corner on Fort Monroe
Virginian-Pilot, 5 July 2006
This lengthy, comprehensive editorial calls for the planning for Fort Monroe ‘s future to be handled above the level of a single municipality, and endorses the idea of a congressionally mandated study of the prospects for a Fort Monroe National Park .

Seeking advice
Daily Press, 10 June 2006
by reporter Kimball Payne

The Hampton conundrum: What to do with Fort Monroe?
Virginian Pilot, 7 June 2006
by reporter Kate Wiltrout
Because we believe this article portrays Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park both fairly and well, we were glad to see it picked up by the Associated Press and posted elsewhere, including at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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