March 2, 2013
Dear Governor McDonnell,
As a long-time resident of Hampton, and a recent resident of Midlothian, I am excited about the prospects of the newly designated Fort Monroe National Monument. My family and I visited the fort many times when my children were growing up and often attended concerts there. In a town with few green places, the Fort was one area where we could see a broad expanse of trees, grass, gardens and water. The fact that this beautiful place will now be opened to the public as a park, is a magnificent gift to not only the people of Hampton but to the world.
My only concern is the separation of two parts of the park by the state-owned Wherry Quarter. I am requesting that you do all that you can to transfer the ownership of Wherry and the South Waterfront to the Fort Monroe National Monument. As a united panorama of fort, green space, and water, this park could be one of the greatest legacies of your administration.
I know there are those who argue that such a park would be financially unsustainable without a tax-producing commercial use of the Wherry Quarter. However, the National Park Service Director made the following statement at a meeting on Virginia tourism in 2010: “The 23 million visitors to Virginia’s National Park sites contributed 443 million to local economies and supported 7,000 private sector jobs.” As a united, large park, Fort Monroe would attract visitors from all over the world and possibly make Hampton a primary destination for tourists. On the other hand, a small, fragmented park would not have that kind of universal appeal.
A united park would attract not only history enthusiasts but their families as well. My children groaned when I stopped to see road side markers and historic sites, but they were excited by broad, clean beaches, boat facilities, and beautiful out-door places like Fort Monroe. Such a park would be attractive for whole families.
The people of Hampton are also strongly supportive of a united Fort Monroe National monument. In a survey taken on October 22, 2012 95% of respondents favored adding the Wherry and South Waterfront to the park. In today’s highly divided political atmosphere, a 95% approval rating should be taken seriously.
In conclusion, I strongly urge you to support measures to create a united Fort Monroe National Monument. The opportunity to preserve green space in a town that is already too commercial may never come again. Economically, I don’t see how we can lose, and culturally, historically, and ecologically, we can only win.
Dr. Victor H. Thompson
13706 Long Cove Place
Midlothian, Virginia 23112
18 February, 2013
Governor Bob McDonnell
Office of the Governor
1111 East Broad Street
Dear Governor McDonnell:
I understand there is some question regardingFortMonroein the Hampton/Norfolk area, and development in areas not already slated to go to the National Park Service.
I strongly urge you and the Government of the Commonwealth to support maximum utilization of all green space that will become available. I can understand developers will push for private development, there will be arguments that this will increase the tax base, etc. etc. etc. Of course: that is what developers do. You, however, have a much longer term responsibility. Keeping this area green for public use in the middle of our growing Tidewater megalopolis is vital to future generations.
I can imagine that in the 19th century, developers inNew York City would have found the area that is nowCentral Park attractive. But creating this parkland in the middle of our greatest city made all property in NYC more valuable, and the city was made more livable. Today it seems insane not to have the park in Manhattan.
Norfolk is, I understand, the world’s biggest naval base. I spent over four years in the navy in the mid-sixties, but somehow never made it through Norfolk. But if I were a sailor today, I would certainly welcome access to a big park fairly near my base, instead of being plunked down in the middle of a huge megalopolis. If it were just the huge city, I would resist orders toNorfolk—and maybe push forSan Diego!
We—and you—have a unique opportunity to do something now to preserve this parkland. I urge you and the government of our Commonwealth to act to keep one of our biggest urban areas (and sources of wealth) livable.
And, of course, there is the long and distinguished history associated withFortMonroe.
Ralph H. Ruedy
302 North New Street
Staunton, Virginia 24401