Development at Fort Necessity Threatens Land Once Owned by George Washington

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   October 11, 2002
Contact:   Joy Oakes, NPCA, 202-454-3386


Development at Fort Necessity Threatens Land Once Owned by George Washington

Washington, D.C. - A move by Fayette County, Pennsylvania, commissioners to open up 130 acres of historically important public land to presently unauthorized development has drawn the ire of a leading national parks conservation group as development proponents and a local commissioner prepare to host a meeting to promote their plan.
The land, now publicly owned, lies along U.S. Route 40 in Fayette County's Wharton Township and next door to Fort Necessity National Battlefield. The county purchased the property 30 years ago using funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The funding source limits use of the land to recreation, conservation, and historical purposes. The Fayette County commissioners are seeking legislation to lift those restrictions so they can lease or sell the land to Fayette Films, a corporation recently established in Uniontown.
"Development of this land insults the solemn nature of this historical park," said Joy Oakes, director of the National Parks Conservation Association's (NPCA) Mid-Atlantic region. "Young George Washington fought his first battle here, and the land was so important to him that he later purchased it. The park commemorates Washington's defeat in the first battle of the French and Indian War."
Fayette Films seeks to develop the site as a movie-making lot with sound stages, other buildings, a western-themed town, and parking areas to accommodate tourists.
"July 2004 will mark the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Necessity," said Oakes. "The message of this park is powerful even today—that despite setbacks, Americans can unite to defeat those who wish us ill. The power of this message, and the power of this place, will be diminished by inappropriate development. Governor Mark Schweiker should oppose changing the restrictions and encourage the Fayette County commissioners to work with all interested parties—including the National Park Service, the Commonwealth, and community groups—to find a solution that maintains this open land as a venerated part of American history."

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