Park Advocates and Local Residents File Legal Challenge to Valley Forge Ordinance

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   June 11, 2008
Contact:   Cinda Waldbuesser, Pennsylvania Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 215.327.2529


Park Advocates and Local Residents File Legal Challenge to Valley Forge Ordinance

Proposed Commercial Development Incompatible with Historic Character of Valley Forge

Philadelphia, PA- Lower Providence residents joined the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today in filing a legal challenge against the Lower Providence Township's decision to allow the American Revolution Center (ARC) to build an oversized, commercialized museum complex on private historic land within Valley Forge National Historical Park. The challenge was filed with the Township's Zoning Hearing Board.

"The township ordinance, adopted specifically for ARC, would enable the developer to undermine the role of the National Park Service to manage and preserve the history of Valley Forge and the American Revolution," said Cinda Waldbuesser, NPCA Pennsylvania program manager. "This contradicts the intent of Congress, which clearly directs the National Park Service, not a private developer, to preserve and tell the American story of General George Washington and his Continental Army at Valley Forge."

On May 2, 2008, the Township zoning officer approved ARC's development plans, which the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code states as the "triggering event" that the Board had earlier ruled was needed before this challenge could be heard.

ARC's development proposal would be constructed on a parcel of land almost totally surrounded by parkland, in a remote location not easily accessible by visitors to the park. The proposal would change the whole character of Valley Forge by allowing a museum; a conference center; a 99-room hotel; as well as parking lots for buses, RVs, and cars on what is now historic open meadows and woods-an area that was vital to the Continental Army encampment during 1777-78.

Among other things, ARC's plans will:

-Destroy lands with historic significance. Based on his near-decade of reviewing original encampment documents, historian Dr. Wayne Bodle of Indiana University of Pennsylvania has stated ARC's land planned for intensive development in fact is "just as 'hallowed' as any other lands" in the park.

-Destroy invaluable open space. The north side of the park provides open space for visitors and the best wildlife habitat in the entire park. ARC's plans include disturbing approximately 70 percent of the site, leaving only a small amount of land as what most would consider as open space.

-Add noise, light, traffic, and storm water runoff, as well as the visual intrusion of the parking lots, buildings, and other aspects of this museum complex.

"Building a museum removed from the current center of park visitation will divide the park and create a confusing experience for visitors," said Waldbuesser. "A museum should instead be built near the park's current Welcome Center where it belongs and where it would be an asset to, rather than a detraction from, the park."

Since 1919, the nonpartisan, nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 342,000 members, and allies work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation's natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.

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