|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||April 2, 2007|
|Contact:||Joy Oakes, NPCA Senior Director, 202.329.6815 or 202.454.3386|
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Threatened by Ill-Advised Development Adjacent to Park Land
National Groups, Local Businesses and Organizations Urge City Officials to Deny Proposed Annexation
Washington, DC - In a letter sent to Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith and members of the town council, more than two dozen local and national businesses and organizations, including the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), encouraged city officials to deny the proposed annexation and re-zoning to allow ill-advised development on land surrounded by Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
"This ill-advised proposal threatens Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, a jewel of the National Park System, and the economic benefits now generated by the park's 300,000 yearly visitors," said Joy Oakes, NPCA senior regional director.
Tonight, the mayor and members of the town council will hold a public meeting to consider the proposed annexation and rezoning that would allow intensive development on 638 acres of high-value historic and scenic lands, undermining the millions of dollars in federal, state, and private investments made to preserve the park for future generations.
The lands at risk have significant historical character related to John Brown's raid in 1859, the siege and defense of Harpers Ferry in 1862, and General Philip Sheridan's Valley Campaign in 1864. Furthermore, the lands at risk lie in the viewshed of Bolivar Heights, the Murphy Farm, and other areas of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
"Incompatible development on such a scale could make Harpers Ferry less attractive to heritage tourists, who provide an ongoing boost to the region's economy," said Oakes.
According to a recent report released by NPCA, every federal dollar invested in America's national parks generates an average of four dollars of value in area economies.
A number of opponents are expected to attend the Charles Town Planning Commission meeting, which will take place at the Mt. Zion Episcopal Church in Charles Town at 6 p.m. this evening, and the Town Council meeting, at the same location at 7:00 p.m. To view the letter sent to Mayor Peggy Smith and the members of the town council, please visit: www.npca.org/media_center/pdf/Harpers_Ferry_Letter_33007.pdf.