Greetings from Governors Island National Monument

I became a volunteer with NPS in 2012 at Governors island National Monument. As a history buff I was thrilled to participate in the many programs that the rangers regularly presented on their own and in partnership with other organizations which highlighted this historic site’s importance in the history of New York City and the country. They did living history presentations in period uniforms which included canon and musket demonstrations, had a regular schedule tours of the forts, regularly hosted special tours for local schools, talks that highlighted various aspects of military life, and kept these historic forts clean well-maintained and accessible to the public.

Since 2016 all of those things that were enjoyed by the increasing number of Governors Island visitors gradually diminished and completely vanished during the pandemic. Now that visitors are returning and most other places are reopening it is alarming that NPS now struggles to keep the forts open only on weekends. Many areas that could easily and safely be opened to the public are closed because of a lack of basic cleaning maintenance. The forts are staffed on weekends with park rangers from other sites doing overtime duty and rangers from administrative offices who are not trained to interact with the public with historic interpretation.

I know there are department-wide staffing shortages within the NPS since the pandemic began, but this does not excuse the the diminished programing and neglect which began years before the pandemic.

I see no evidence of the local branch of NPCA doing anything to help any of New York City’s NPS historic sites with the many staffing and maintenance issues exacerbated by the pandemic.

[The author is correct that parks throughout the system are experiencing staffing shortages and diminished programming largely due to inadequate funding. While Congress has provided steady increases for the operations account of the National Park System—which funds staff and other operating needs—since 2014, it hasn’t been enough to prevent the gradual erosion of staffing levels. Superintendents must contend with inflation and numerous fixed and uncontrollable costs such as cost-of living adjustments and insurance rates. Incremental increases in their budgets must cover these increased costs instead of restoring positions ranging from maintenance to interpreters, historians and specialists in cultural resources, wildlife, clean air and more. NPCA is working throughout the country and in the halls of Capitol Hill to raise awareness of the staffing needs in parks, including those in New York City. We hope you’ll join us.]

Sincerely,
Bruce

Governors Island National Monument

A sentinel in the heart of New York Harbor, Governors Island National Monument tells the story of one of the country's longest running military installations.

State(s): New York

Established: 2003

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