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Delegate Warren Helsel and Senator Mamie Locke submitted resolutions to their respective houses that commend Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, along with other parties, for its advocacy of a grand public place at Fort Monroe.  These resolutions have been approved by the respective houses. The entire resolution is below, but here is the core commendation:

“RESOLVED FURTHER, That the General Assembly commend the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park and other interested parties’ advocacy for preserving viewsheds to the maximum extent possible in the Wherry Quarter, the permanent and substantial connection of the bifurcated National Park Service parcels, the maintenance of Batteries Parrott and Irwin and connecting land to Wherry Quarter for eventual inclusion in the National Park Service property, and the discouragement of development between the bifurcated National Park Service parcels on any land designated as public open space in the Master Plan for Fort Monroe.”

CFMNP hopes that you will use this commendation in support of saving Wherry from development–and also of maintaining the two batteries on state property for inclusion in the National Monument.


Whether Fort Monroe achieves its full potential as a premier historic and recreational site for the region, a national and international destination, and not incidentally an economic engine for Hampton Roads, depends on all of us.  Citizen involvement has brought Fort Monroe close to achieving this potential through the creation of the National Monument, and citizen involvement is absolutely necessary to set it on its proper course for generations to come.  Please attend the March 29 meeting and speak up for an open-space Wherry Quarter to make Fort Monroe the treasure–your treasure–it deserves to be. Success depends on you speaking out strongly and unambiguously!


Weigh in on plans for Fort Monroe (Op-ed in Sunday March 25 Daily Press)

Scott Butler
March 24, 2012
On March 29, Sasaski Associates, the firm hired by the Fort Monroe Authority to develop a master plan for Fort Monroe, will begin soliciting public opinion. A key area of concern is the Wherry Quarter, the hundred acres between the north side of the stone fortress and the south end of the National Monument parkland. Populated mainly by non-historic structures, some of which are already slated for demolition, Wherry could evolve into an open green space. As such, it would add to Fort Monroe’s public character and recreational opportunities, provide striking views from the fortress toward the shorelines and vice versa, and create a natural landscape of 300 acres immediately abutting the built-up areas–a highly pleasing feature often seen in Europe but rare in the sprawling eastern US.
On the other hand, the existing buildings there could be replaced by new development.
The state’s 2008 Fort Monroe Reuse Plan allows for this possibility, but it also says that the use of Wherry (known as management Zone B), is “to be determined.” Why the open-endedness concerning “Zone B”? The citizens of Hampton Roads had made it clear in a variety of forums that they overwhelmingly favored a grand public place at Fort Monroe, and a green Wherry figured importantly in this vision. Perhaps in response to the citizens, the Fort Monroe state board of that time decided to spare Wherry from new development unless additional funding proved necessary to maintain the post’s existing buildings, all of which it planned to lease. Or from a skeptic’s perspective, maybe the board didn’t want to rile the citizens before the development it intended in “Zone B” became imminent.
Whatever the reason for the board’s position, Wherry’s undetermined status will soon end. In the next 6 to 18 months Sasaki Associates will complete a Master Plan with recommendations for Wherry as well as the other zones. How will Sasaki arrive at its recommendations? Glenn Oder, executive director of the Fort Monroe Authority, has given the firm three guiding principles: preserve the property, tell the story of Fort Monroe, and achieve economic self-sufficiency. Presumably, Sasaki will consider the management-zone guidelines of the 2008 reuse plan. And it will solicit public opinion.
It should also take into account two other factors: the newly created Fort Monroe National Monument and the new legislation that facilitates the selling of state-owned Fort Monroe property exclusive of the inner fortress and Wherry land.
The National Monument represents a paradigm shift. It has immeasurably enriched Fort Monroe’s potential to become a magnificent, centrally located urban park for Hampton Roads, a premier national and international destination, and an economic engine for the region. But the realization of this potential involves treating Wherry as public open space. Since Wherry divides the two parts of the Monument (the fortress easement area and 244 acres of parkland), developing it would forever split the Monument as well as foreclose the possibility of Wherry’s transfer to the National Park Service.
The state board’s enhanced ability to sell property is also significant. As the board gains revenue from the sale of houses and other buildings, it will simultaneously reduce its annual city-services fee to Hampton and the maintenance costs associated with short-term leasing. Thus economic sustainability should be possible without new construction in Wherry, where in deference to citizens’ concerns the land cannot be easily sold, but still can be developed under leasing arrangements.
Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park urges citizens to sign up for one of Sasaki’s two public meetings on March 29 and express their desire for a grand public place at Fort Monroe and especially for an open, green Wherry. We also urge citizens to advocate for a substantial National Monument connector through Wherry. The agreement between the state and the National Park Service calls for a “right of way,” which could mean anything from a footpath to something much larger. Citizens should demand a wide swath of land that includes Bay-facing shoreline and, just south of Wherry, coastal batteries Irwin and Parrot.
The March 29 Master Plan public meetings are scheduled for 2 PM and 6 PM in Building 75 at Fort Monroe. Links to registration for the sessions and to directions to the building may be found on the website of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park:
Citizen participation is crucial to setting Fort Monroe on its proper course for generations to come. Success depends on citizens speaking out strongly and unambiguously.
Butler is a board member of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park




Offered February 14, 2012

Commending the work of the Fort Monroe Authority, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, Hampton City Council, Governor of Virginia, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Preservation Virginia, and the National Park Service for their work in establishing Fort Monroe National Monument.


Patron– Helsel


WHEREAS, in 2005 the Base Realignment and Closure Commission approved the recommendation by the Secretary of Defense to close Fort Monroe as an Army post; and

WHEREAS, in 2007 the General Assembly created the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority to, among other matters, study, plan and recommend the best use of the resources that will remain when the Army vacates the post; and

WHEREAS, in 2008, after considerable deliberation and public discourse, the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority approved the Fort Monroe Reuse Plan that recognized five distinct areas within the 565-acre site for future development and stewardship based on their characteristics; and

WHEREAS, in 2010 the General Assembly created the Fort Monroe Authority as the successor to the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority designating it to be responsible for the preservation and maintenance of the property on behalf of the Commonwealth; and

WHEREAS, the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, whose mission is to establish a Grand Public Place with a substantial unit of the National Park Service at its core, began regular monthly public meetings and served as a volunteer advocacy group to support the creation of a National Park Service unit at Fort Monroe; and

WHEREAS, there exists a Programmatic Agreement among the United States Army, the Virginia State Historic Preservation Officer, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the Fort Monroe Authority and the National Park Service and was developed with 27 consulting parties; and

WHEREAS, such Programmatic Agreement establishes commitments to and processes for the appropriate stewardship of Fort Monroe, and articulated the desire to not take any action which would preclude the use of Fort Monroe as a National Park until consulting with the National Park Service; and

WHEREAS, the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park and City of Hampton Mayor Molly Ward worked together to lobby Congress and the President to establish a National Park Service unit at Fort Monroe; and

WHEREAS, Governor Robert F. McDonnell wrote a letter to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar expressing his strong support for a National Park at Fort Monroe and outlining the boundaries of such a park; and

WHEREAS, at the urging of the Hampton City Council, the citizens of Hampton Roads rallied in a massive show of support during President Obama’s visit to the region on October 19, 2011, by launching a “Green Initiative” encouraging everyone to wear green to support the cause; and

WHEREAS, on November 1, 2011, President Obama signed a proclamation under the Antiquities Act designating approximately 244 acres of the property at Fort Monroe as a National Monument and an additional 80 acres preserved by a protective easement; and

WHEREAS, the Fort Monroe National Monument is currently comprised of two parcels and separated by land that shall be owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia; and

WHEREAS, the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, along with other interested parties, has advocated for Wherry Quarter to be designed in a fashion that preserves and protects viewsheds between the Chesapeake Bay and the fortress to the maximum extent possible; and

WHEREAS, the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, along with other interested parties, has advocated for the development and use of Fort Monroe to be designed and undertaken in such a manner that at some point in time the two bifurcated National Park Service parcels could be permanently and substantially connected by the land owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia that now separates the two parcels; and

WHEREAS, the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, along with other interested parties, has also encouraged the maintenance of Batteries Parrott and Irwin and the land that lies between them and the Wherry Quarter on the Bay side of Fenwick Road in a manner that would allow at some point for them to be joined with adjacent National Park Service properties in a unified national park unit and discouraged development between the bifurcated parcels of the Fort Monroe National Monument on any land designated as public open space in the Master Plan for Fort Monroe; and

WHEREAS, the Fort Monroe Authority acknowledges the goals expressed by the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park and other interested parties; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED by the House of Delegates, the Senate concurring, That the General Assembly commend the Fort Monroe Authority, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, Hampton City Council, Governor of Virginia, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Preservation Virginia, and the National Park Service for their work in establishing the Fort Monroe National Monument; and, be it

RESOLVED FURTHER, That the General Assembly commend the Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park and other interested parties’ advocacy for preserving viewsheds to the maximum extent possible in the Wherry Quarter, the permanent and substantial connection of the bifurcated National Park Service parcels, the maintenance of Batteries Parrott and Irwin and connecting land to Wherry Quarter for eventual inclusion in the National Park Service property, and the discouragement of development between the bifurcated National Park Service parcels on any land designated as public open space in the Master Plan for Fort Monroe; and, be it

RESOLVED FINALLY, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare copies of this resolution for presentation to the Fort Monroe Authority, Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park, Hampton City Council, Governor of Virginia, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Preservation Virginia, and the National Park Service as an expression of the General Assembly’s admiration for their work to establish a monument on one of the Commonwealth’s historic sites.


Photos of Preservation Virginia Legislative Reception (2/16/12), Sierra Club meeting (2/15/12), CFMNP Board meeting (2/13/12), Interior Department/NPS meeting in Richmond (2/1/12), and more on our PHOTO PAGE (Click here)

Citizen of the Year: Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park (Click here for articles and more photos)



CFMNP is in full agreement with the following Virginian-Pilot editorial on the Wherry Quarter, those crucial 100 acres between the two parts of the Fort Monroe National Monument.  The development of this area would forever divide the National Monument and block the views from the fortress to the Bay, and from the Bay to the fortress.  For more on our position on this issue, please see the statement below the editorial.

Fort Monroe’s fate beyond the gate

Protection of the Wherry Quarter and historic properties.

Where we stand The General Assembly is moving in the right direction but isn’t quite there.
The Virginian-Pilot
© January 29, 2012
The Wherry Quarter, roughly 100 acres of state-owned waterfront land that lies between two sections of the new Fort Monroe National Monument, should be permanently protected from development.
The General Assembly appears ready to take a major step in that direction, but it doesn’t go far enough.
At the request of the Fort Monroe Authority, Del. Gordon Helsel of Poquoson and Sen. Mamie Locke of Hampton introduced legislation this month to give its board of trustees full power to sell buildings and land within the fort’s historic village and North Gate areas.
Currently, any sales of state-owned land at Fort Monroe must be approved by both the governor and the legislature. The change would affect about 137 of the 240 acres now managed by the authority.
The National Park Service assumed control of the remaining 325 acres at the former Army base after President Barack Obama declared it a national monument in November.
Preservationists raised several concerns about the proposal, including the fate of Wherry Quarter and the need to sell – rather than pursue long-term leases for – the state-owned land.
In a compromise move, Helsel and Locke have offered a resolution stipulating that the General Assembly’s goal is to preserve and protect the Wherry Quarter “to the maximum extent possible” so that the land might someday be added to the national monument.
The resolution would be a strong statement of support by the General Assembly for setting aside the waterfront land as open space in a master plan now under development. But the resolution is not binding.
The legislation, as originally written, revived fears that the authority is up to something sinister – that it intends to convert the state-owned land into a high-rise condo canyon or worse.
But there is a persuasive argument for allowing the authority to sell some of its land at Fort Monroe, and there are multiple indications that the authority is properly focused on preserving the historic integrity of the site.
Glenn Oder, the authority’s executive director and a former state delegate, says the proposed legislation is necessary because securing long-term leases for residential and commercial use isn’t economically viable. Financial institutions simply won’t lend money for leases of 50 years or more, he says, partly because the state-owned property can’t be foreclosed upon if the deal goes awry.
Selling the land could be beneficial in various ways, as Oder points out. The houses, which would be conveyed with strict preservation covenants, would likely end up with preservation-minded owners eager to renovate and protect them. For the state, that would save estimated maintenance costs of at least $600,000 a year. And selling the houses – as well as parcels of open land for compatible development – would generate revenue for the authority to improve utilities and roads.
The proposed legislation would bar any sales until a master plan is completed roughly a year from now. Preservationists also pushed for – and won – a change that would require the governor to sign off on the master plan before sales could occur.
Ideally, the public – and the legislature – should have a completed master plan and design standards before the authority is granted the power to sell any land. But there are now enough assurances in place to warrant moving ahead rather than delaying the matter another year or more.
The same can’t be said about the fate of the Wherry Quarter, however. Oder said the public has made its wishes known about the waterfront – that preservation of the land as open space is paramount.
A resolution, by itself, won’t guarantee that outcome. To satisfy the public’s wishes and ensure the monument is fully protected, the Fort Monroe Authority and the General Assembly need to establish an easement barring development at Wherry Quarter.


CFMNP Seeks Unified National Monument, Protected Viewsheds and Expanded Public Open Space to Achieve Grand Public Place at Fort Monroe
As the Daily Press and the Virginian-Pilot have reported, the Fort Monroe Authority has introduced legislation to relax the strictures on selling property at Fort Monroe. Under the new bills, land sales will no longer require the consent of the Governor and the General Assembly. CFMNP initially opposed the removal of these restrictions. We favored continued public ownership of the state-owned parts of Fort Monroe. We also feared that land sales might prohibit a substantial connection between the two National Monument areas (the fortress and 244 acres of park space) and negate the viewshed and open-space opportunities between the fortress and the Chesapeake Bay.

The FMA responded to our concerns, first, by making the old restrictions on land sales still apply to the inner fortress and the acreage that separates the parts of the National Monument, and, second, by drafting a General Assembly resolution. Crafted by FMA executive director Glenn Oder with CFMNP’s input, the resolution expresses the Commonwealth’s support for an open-space connection between the National Monument areas and for view sheds from the fortress to the Bay.  It also supports the protection of Batteries Parrot and Irwin and the shoreline connecting them to the intended public open space between the National Monument areas. These ideas, if implemented, would result in a grand, unified public place from the south side of the fortress to the northern tip of Fort Monroe.

Because of the FMA’s good-faith efforts, CFMNP is not opposing the new legislation. Instead, we intend to emphasize and build on the resolution in the upcoming Fort Monroe planning process, which will involve the public to a significant degree. We will also advocate for maintaining and enforcing the FMA’s preservation and design standards to protect any property that is sold. We hope that other conservation and preservation organizations will do the same. And we especially hope that other citizens, many other citizens, will join us in insisting that the shorelines remain public, the viewsheds are protected, the National Monument is linked into a cohesive whole, and as much public open space as possible is established and protected.  The signatures of 7000 Hampton voters played a major role in persuading Virginia legislators and President Obama to create Fort Monroe National Monument. The participation of citizens from around Hampton Roads in the planning process will be no less important. With your help, 2012 will be the year in which all of us set Fort Monroe on its true and proper course for generations to come.  Stay tuned for updates.

Also, here is the Daily Press’s recent editorial in favor of land sales with adequate preservation protections, and somewhat supportive of our goals:

Editorial: Fortified for the future

General Assembly should make it easier for Monroe residents to get financing

Daily Press, January 24, 2012

When the U.S. Army first announced in 2005 it would be vacating Fort Monroe, local visionaries began working on plans for repurposing this historic site. After years of public discussion and input, the General Assembly created the Fort Monroe Authority and charged it with oversight of the conversion of the base into a new waterfront community. As of September, the base is pulling up stakes and a National Monument under jurisdiction of the National Park Service has been established within its boundaries.

The Authority is now asking the General Assembly, through parallel bills sponsored by Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, and Del. Gordon D. Helsel, Jr., R-Poquoson, to revise the enabling legislation so to allow sales of land in lieu of leases in the Historic Village and North Gate areas.

We urge the General Assembly to adopt this modification, which is necessary to move the project forward at this critical point.

Under the current law, the Authority is allowed to enter into long-term leases for property in three areas it controls: the Historic Village, North Gate and Wherry Quarter sections. However, because leases would make it very difficult for prospective residents to obtain mortgage financing, the marketability of the residential portion of the project is severely limited.

Some redevelopment projects have worked with long-term leases, such as in the dense urban setting of San Francisco’s Presidio, where they are far more common, or our own historic Williamsburg community, which is a unique arrangement controlled through a charitable foundation. Colin Campbell, President of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, serves on the board of the Authority and has expressed concerns that leaseholds at Fort Monroe won’t be marketable in an area like Hampton Roads.

It’s difficult enough in today’s market to obtain purchase financing when the bank has real estate as collateral; finding a loan on a long-term lease when the tenant has no real estate to pledge will be virtually impossible for the typical buyer.

Furthermore, the character and quality of the original construction, along with the natural landscape and resources, can be retained and enforced whether the transfers are structured as leases or sales. The Authority is prepared to impose easements and deed restrictions that will accomplish all of the historic preservation issues that leases would include — with the added enforcement value of real estate encumbrances that would apply to future sales, as well.

One of the inherent challenges in redesigning the Fort Monroe property as a new urban setting is that the Park Service property comprises two parcels, the fort and the beachfront tract, which are separated by the Wherry Quarter property, in the Authority’s purview. National Park supporters are particularly concerned about preserving the view from the fort and having a greenbelt between the two parcels so that park visitors can better enjoy the site.

As a concession, the proposed legislation excludes Wherry Quarter and requires the Governor and General Assembly to approve any sales within this transitional space. This is a major compromise that demonstrates the Authority’s commitment to honoring the integrity of the park.

Before any sales could occur in the development, the Authority will conduct a master planning process that will include ample opportunity for public input. Design standards, layout, building mix and a host of other details will be fleshed out over the next six to 18 months.

The Fort Monroe Authority is embarking on a huge undertaking. Creating a workable mixed-use development that is compatible with the historic framework and the National Monument will be a challenge, but a worthwhile one. When completed, the project will be a major asset to Hampton Roads.

The General Assembly needs to approve a structure that will be most conducive to accomplishing the vision. In the world of financing, that means sales, not leases, along with all the protective restrictions necessary to pay homage to the rich history of the site.,0,6552601.story


A Jan. 6, 2012 Daily Press article reports that a plan to widen the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel from four to eight lanes has sparked concern about the impact on a number of historic sites including Fort Monroe and Fort Wool.  Here’s a link to the article:,0,2468587.story
CFMNP signed on as consulting party to the VDOT survey of potential effects, and CFMNP President Mark Perreault communicated our group’s concerns.  His letter said in part:
Generally speaking, it must be recognized that the Area of Potential Effect is one of the grandest and most historically significant locations in the United States, of enormous historical value to all Americans. It includes not only the point of arrival of the first English colonists in 1607, but includes Old Point Comfort, where the first captive African-Americans brought to English North America were disembarked in 1619. It is also a major site of the Civil War, including Fort Monroe, Fort Calhoun (Wool), the site of the Battle of Hampton Roads, the successful Union assault on Norfolk on May 9, 1862 (personally planned and directed by President Abraham Lincoln) and the site of the unsuccessful Hampton Roads Conference of February 3, 1865 attended by President Lincoln, Secretary of State William Seward, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, and other representatives of the Confederate government onboard the River Queen, lashed to another ship in Hampton Roads. That indicates that the greatest care and sensitivity to the historic resources within the Area of Potential effect must be employed.
Most significantly, the survey should recognize that 324 acres of Fort Monroe is, as of November 1, 2011, a National Monument, a unit of the National Park system. And there is the opportunity for the National Monument to grow, not only to include more of Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe but also to include Fort Wool or other historic sites within Hampton Roads. No road project should adversely affect the National Monument or limit its ability to reach its full potential. The viewsheds between Fort Monroe and the site of the Battle of Hampton Roads and subsequent naval activity should be included as key historic resources (e.g., upon entering Hampton Roads fromthe Elizabeth River, the CSS Virginia (Merrimack) was fired upon (albeit ineffectually) by guns located at Fort Monroe on May 8, 1862).



Home sales sought at Fort Monroe
By David Macaulay, | 757-247-7838
7:21 p.m. EST, December 16, 2011
HAMPTON — The Fort Monroe Authority wants to sell historic homes at Fort Monroe and that idea isn’t sitting well with a group of concerned citizens.The authority hopes private investment will assure the upkeep of properties on the former Army post and will seek legislation to allow it, but Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park fear land sales could impede the future development of a national park.
Mark Perreault, president of the group, said they are concerned about a loss of public control.The public wants Fort Monroe to remain a public place, he said.
“Once we start selling off property, with whatever protections are placed on them, this board no longer controls all of the property,” he said. “We’ve just got a national monument established on Nov. 1. That national monument may evolve.”
In November President Barack Obama announced the creation of a National Monument of about 325 acres at Fort Monroe which includes an easement. The parcel owned by the National Park Service is expected to be about 244 acres. The rest of the 565-acre site will be administered by the Fort Monroe Authority.
The authority, responsible for Monroe’s future, has in the past proposed long-term leases for properties but is now retreating from that concept amid concerns about its feasibility.The Fort Monroe Authority voted 10-0 with one abstention on Thursday to draw up legislation that would make it easier for property to be sold at Fort Monroe. Hampton Mayor Molly Ward abstained. She said she believed the change was a “move in the right direction,” but had not had the opportunity to review it with city staff.Currently, any sale at Monroe has to be backed by both the governor and the Virginia General Assembly, a process that makes conveyances impractical.Legislation to make sales easier would not apply to the inner fort area and the Wherry quarter, which is to the northeast of the fort.”It would amend the existing act that prohibits any real estate transfer unless it’s approved by the General Assembly and the governor,” said board chair Terrie Suit.
“The rest of the fort would not be restricted to governor and General Assembly approval,” said Suit. But she said legislation would not come into effect until a master plan was completed for Fort Monroe with public input.Suit said the legislation would keep zoning and land use decisions under the Fort Monroe Authority. It would not allow any property that became private to be zoned by the city of Hampton.Suit said citizens felt the inner fort and the Wherry quarter — two areas that connect to the national park land — need to be under the control of the commonwealth until a plan is in place.
“We have looked at the economic feasibility of leasehold. Unless the General Assembly is willing to subsidize the operations of this Fort Monroe area from now until the end of time, we are not going to be able to sustain Fort Monroe under leasehold,” she said.

The authority would not have the financial resources to take care of historic properties under the leasehold model, Suit said. The proceeds of capital sales would go into a capital improvement fund, she said.
Board member Colin Campbell said the authority does not have resources for maintenance at present. “We have a really serious infrastructure issue over the long haul and somebody will have to pay for it,” he said.

Earlier in the meeting John Hutcheson, the authority’s deputy executive director, highlighted flaws in the policy of long-term leaseholds that was developed by the former Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority. The plan entailed lease terms of more than 50 years.

“In the current market financing of pre-paid leasehold is not available,” he said.
Representatives of Citizens for a Fort Monroe National Park voted against the recommendation of the committee to pursue sales.
Perreault said public control of the property may be lost if private property rights are brought to bear.
“Our view is the public should continue to control all 565 acres of the property,” Perreault said.