Bipartisan Group of Federal and State Officials and Organizations Cheer Inclusion of Delaware and Pennsylvania in National Park System
Historical sites will be given national monument status creating first presence of National Park Service in Delaware
WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Congressmen John Carney (D-Del.) and Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) joined Governor Jack Markell (D-Del.) and leaders from non-profit organizations to celebrate the news that President Barack Obama will designate a national monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania on Monday. Using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make the designation, the President’s action will bring historic sites in Delaware and Pennsylvania into the National Park Service. This is the first time Delaware will be included in the national park system.
This national monument is very similar to national park legislation introduced earlier this year by Sens. Carper and Coons and Reps. Carney and Meehan in that it preserves and interprets resources associated with early Dutch, Swedish and English settlements as well as Delaware’s role in the events leading up to the signing of the our Constitution. The sites in the national monument are located in Delaware and Pennsylvania and include the Woodlawn Trustees Property, Old Sheriff’s House, Old New Castle Courthouse, New Castle Green and Dover Green. The Woodlawn Property and Old Sheriff’s House will be fully owned by the National Park Service. The rest of the properties will be in the national monument through a historical easement. Ownership and management will still reside with the current owner.
SEN. CARPER: “This is not the finish line, but it’s a very good step toward the end goal, which is a National Park for Delaware. Before now, Delaware was the only state in our great nation not in the national park system, which through its parks and monuments brings at least $1 million, if not much more, in tourism and economic development to each state with a park or monument every year. On Monday, not only will the national park system gain an important story about the crucial role the First State played in the founding of our country – a story that will now be preserved for generations to come – but our state will now welcome the many economic opportunities that surround a new national monument and can help boost local businesses and create jobs. I want to thank President Obama for recognizing the importance of preserving these historic sites. On behalf of the thousands of Delawareans that have supported this project over the years, I want to especially thank Ken Salazar, the Secretary of Interior, and Jon Jarvis, the National Park Service Director, for their unflappable support and work on this project. Without the efforts of Secretary Salazar, Director Jarvis and their hardworking staffs, we would not be celebrating this great news. Every year, millions of Americans and countless others from across the world plan their vacations around America’s national parks and monuments. After Monday, these visitors will find a new and exciting monument to visit in the First State and our neighbor, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
SEN.COONS: “This long overdue distinction is great news for Delaware. A national monument will help preserve and celebrate our state’s vibrant history, while boosting Delaware’s economy and creating jobs. As a Delawarean, I’m proud that our state will finally be a part of the National Park System, and I’m grateful to Senator Carper for his tireless work to make it happen. While we will continue to pursue a national park designation, I am excited by the opportunity we now have to attract visitors to Delaware.”
SEN. CASEY: “By preserving and protecting these natural, historical and recreational resources, this national monument designation will promote tourism and create new economic development opportunities in the region. The President’s proclamation will also provide opportunities for future generations to study and experience the rich history of this incredible area. I am pleased to know that many years from now visitors will have the ability to enjoy the outdoors and to learn about a vital part of our Nation’s history that we must protect.”
SEN. TOOMEY: “The president’s action is important for the preservation of our region’s unique history. The Woodlawn property, which encompasses parts of Delaware County, is a beautiful resource that both residents and tourists can continue to enjoy for generations to come. This success is the result of a cross-state and bipartisan effort and I was happy to work with Senator Casey, Congressman Meehan, and our friends from Delaware to get this done.”
REP. CARNEY: “While we will continue working toward establishing a national park in Delaware, this is great news for our state. Monument status will bring tourism and economic benefits, in addition to protecting these historic landmarks so that future generations will be able to learn first-hand about Delaware’s prominent role in the founding of the United States of America.”
REP. MEEHAN: “Preserving this property for future generations of Pennsylvanians is will make it a tremendous asset for our region. This designation will raise the national profile of this area, attract tourism revenue for local businesses and support economic growth. Most importantly, I’m pleased that the natural beauty and historical significance of this area will be protected. I’m committed to continuing the work we’ve begun to pass legislation designating this property as a national park.”
GOV. MARKELL: “Delaware played a critical role in the founding of our country and deserves this historical recognition, and Senator Carper deserves tremendous credit for getting it done,” said Governor Jack Markell. “A national designation will draw more people to discover the stories in our history and landmarks of early settlers here in the First State. We thank our congressional delegation for their persistence, President Obama for his decision, and the staff of our Office of Historical and Cultural Affairs, particularly Director Tim Slavin, for their effort and expertise. This marks a first for Delaware and helps put us on the map for visitors, history buffs, and park enthusiasts everywhere.”
BLAINE PHILLIPS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, THE CONSERVATION FUND: “President Obama’s designation of the first national monument in Delaware is a momentous conservation achievement and a tribute to the tireless efforts by so many, especially the Delaware Congressional delegation, to finally include America’s first state in the National Park system. The Conservation Fund is privileged to facilitate the protection of the Woodlawn property for the National Park Service as part of the new monument; and we are extremely grateful for all of the public and private support, especially from the Mt. Cuba Center, that made this possible.”
The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to proclaim national monuments on federal lands or on lands that contain historic or scientific interest. A national monument is considered a unit of the national park system and is managed by the National Park Service in the same way as a national park. Once a site has been designated as a national monument, Congress still has authority to designate a national monument as a national park. In fact, almost half of the current national parks were first designated as national monuments.
For over a decade, Sen. Carper and the Delaware delegation have been working with federal officials, state officials, and community leaders to identify a theme and a concept for a park that fits well within our federal budget and is worthy of designation in the national park system. In January 2009, the Bush Administration finalized a National Park Service Special Resource Study concluding that a national park should be placed in Delaware. Since then, the Delaware congressional delegation, led by Sen. Carper, has introduced legislation in Congress that establishes the First State National Historical Park Act. (Currently, Sens. Carper and Coons and Reps. Carney and Meehan are lead sponsors of national park legislation in the 113th Congress.) Although legislation has made progress every year, time was running out on a deal to preserve one of the historic sites in the national park proposal, the Woodlawn Trustees property. This urged Sen. Carper and others to seek out the use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 to preserve this land and the other historic sites listed in the legislation. Despite Monday’s designation, Delaware and Pennsylvania congressional leaders will continue to pursue national park legislation that not only includes the sites in the national monument but also the remaining sites listed in prior legislative efforts.
A description of each location is listed below:
The Old Sheriff’s House, Old New Castle Courthouse, New Castle Green – These properties are located in historic New Castle, Delaware. Established in 1651, New Castle boasts great examples of colonial, Dutch and Federal architecture. It is here where William Penn landed in the New World in October, 1682. The Old Courthouse, built in 1732, was the place where the state’s colonial assembly met from 1732 until 1777 when New Castle was Delaware’s capital. Court is still held occasionally, making it the oldest continuously used chamber of justice in the United States. The cupola of the Courthouse serves as the center of the “12-mile arc,” which established the original border between Pennsylvania and Delaware. At these sites, visitors can learn more about early settlement, about William Penn, and about local Delawareans who played an important role in American independence, such as two signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas McKean and George Read. The National Park Service now owns the Old Sheriff’s House after it was donated by the State of Delaware and will be the headquarters of the monument after renovations are complete. The Park Service has an easement on the Courthouse and the Green to ensure historic protection, however, the State of Delaware will retain ownership and management of these properties.
Dover Green – The Dover Green resides in downtown Dover, Delaware. At the Dover Green, visitors can learn about the days of debates at the Golden Fleece Tavern that led to Delaware becoming the first state to ratify the Constitution on the Green. Visitors can also learn about Dover native Caesar Rodney, who famously rode from Dover to Philadelphia to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of our nation’s independence. The National Park Service has an easement on the Green, but the City of Dover will retain ownership and management of this property. All prior activities on the Green will be able to continue.
Woodlawn Trustees property – The property straddles and contains the demarcation line known as the “12-mile arc,” which is a part of a circle drawn from the Old New Castle Courthouse establishing the boundaries of the British colonies of Pennsylvania and Delaware in the 17th century. In addition, the property still contains homes dating back to some of the first Quakers that settled the area with William Penn. William Penn originally acquired Rockland Manor, which includes the Woodlawn Trustees property, from the Duke of York in 1682. It has stayed within Quaker ownership, including William Bancroft and the Woodlawn Trustees, until now. The National Park Service owns the property after it was donated by The Conservation Fund.