Virginia lawmakers push federal authorities to take extra Fort Monroe land for nationwide monument

A number of Virginia lawmakers despatched a renewed plea this week to federal officers, making an attempt to get them to take free land.

The three Democrats — Rep. Elaine Luria and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — say they need to defend the land on Fort Monroe for future generations and unify it with the remainder of the fort’s jap shoreline already beneath the Nationwide Park Service.

Officers with President Donald Trump’s administration beforehand declined the donation, citing upkeep prices and attainable hazardous contaminants in buildings on the property, in accordance with Every day Press archives.

With a letter launched Thursday, the Virginia delegation hopes the federal government beneath President Joe Biden will settle for it.

“Fort Monroe holds a particular place in Virginia and our nation’s historical past that tells a novel, difficult, and numerous story,” they wrote to Inside Division Secretary Deb Haaland. “Regardless of the anticipated extra modest federal monetary accountability that may be anticipated from a land donation, we consider the reason for defending and enhancing Fort Monroe is well worth the Park Service’s extra funding.”

The realm consists of about 40 acres alongside the fort’s southeastern coast, together with common spots like Outlook Seashore.

President Barack Obama designated Fort Monroe a nationwide monument in 2011. A couple of years later, Virginia deeded over 100 acres to the Nationwide Park Service.

The historic fortress on the fort’s middle continues to be owned by Virginia, however the park service has an easement permitting it some management for the monument.

The 40 acres, on Fenwick Highway, have been first provided to the park service in 2015 to increase the nationwide monument, and federal officers indicated they’d settle for, in accordance with the lawmakers’ letter.

However the land switch wasn’t accomplished shortly Inside Division officers declined to simply accept it, stated Valeria Rivadeneira, Sen. Warner’s press secretary.

The administration’s acknowledged purpose in 2018 was associated to deferred upkeep, she stated. There’s additionally an understanding that among the buildings on the property might need to bear environmental remediation earlier than being torn down, she added.

The Nationwide Park Service couldn’t instantly be reached for remark Thursday.

In 2019, the senators launched laws to attempt to drive the park service to simply accept the donation, nevertheless it didn’t progress in Congress.

Rivadeneira stated the legislators need to donate the land in order that the shoreline could be protected, together with from future Virginia leaders who might pursue improvement on it.

The Fort Monroe Authority, which presently oversees the land, has already voted to surrender the acreage.

The land would unify the seashores beneath one property proprietor and assure public entry for future generations, government director Glenn Oder informed the Every day Press in 2019.

The authority nonetheless helps transferring the land, spokesperson Phyllis Terrell stated this week. At present, the seashore areas are leased to the town of Hampton for seashore administration and supplying lifeguards through the summer time months, she stated.

The commonwealth has labored just lately with the park service to open a brand new mixed customer middle and host a Four-hundredth-anniversary commemoration of the primary Africans arriving in North America, the Virginia delegation famous of their letter Thursday.

Accepting the land “would reveal to the Commonwealth that the Park Service is a dependable federal accomplice that may be relied on to observe by on its plans,” they wrote.

Katherine Hafner, 757-222-5208, katherine.hafner@pilotonline.com

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