Carper, Coons, Carney Celebrate Passage of Delaware National Park Bill

WASHINGTON ­– Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Congressman John Carney (all D-Del.) celebrated Congressional passage of historic legislation to authorize the creation of a national park in Delaware. The language passed today mirrored bills introduced in 2013 by Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Rep. John Carney– the First State National Historical Park Act of 2013.

The legislation authorizes the First State National Monument in Delaware to become the First State National Historical Park and expands the current First State National Monument to include park sites in all three counties of Delaware.  Similar to the national monument, the First State National Historical Park will celebrate early American Dutch, Swedish and English Settlements located throughout Delaware, and Delaware’s role in the events leading up to  the founding of our nation.

“For over a decade, I have been working with federal officials, state officials, community leaders and everyday citizens to establish a national park in Delaware,” said Sen. Carper. “Today, I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for approving this legislation. Now, Delaware can have a national park that preserves and teaches the lessons of our state’s heritage and our country’s history. I cannot wait for the day when families from all across this country and the world will plan their vacations around the First State National Historical Park to learn how Delaware helped launch the most enduring experiment in democracy that the world has ever known – the United States of America. I must also give special recognition and thanks to Senators Coons, Casey (D-Pa.) and Toomey (R-Pa.) and Representatives Carney and Meehan (R-Pa.) for their continued support and efforts during this process, as well as the many state and local government and community leaders who have worked hard to make this a reality.”

“A national park will preserve and celebrate our state’s vibrant history, while boosting Delaware’s economy and creating jobs,” Senator Coons said. “For more than a decade, Senator Carper has worked tirelessly to finally bring a national park to our state, and with final passage in the Senate today, he has succeeded. National parks are an important part of our national culture and heritage, and it’s long past time that Delaware’s rich history and resources were recognized with official national park status.”

“This is a tremendous achievement for Delaware,” said Congressman Carney. “After years and years of hard work by so many in our state, Delaware will join the ranks of nearly all other states with a National Park. I look forward to taking my family and visitors from out of state to visit the natural and historic sites in our park. And I’m gratified that our neighbors around the country will be able to enjoy the historic attractions our great state has to offer. Today’s a proud day for Delaware.”

The legislation allows the Park Service to work with other historically significant sites that are not included in the National Park, but can be included in the National Park materials, tours and other related items. Additionally, the legislation authorizes a study to assess historical significant properties that should be listed as national landmarks and be associated with the national park. The management and headquarters of the national monument willcontinue to be the same for the newly-designated national park. 

The following sites have been authorized to be included in the park:

New Castle County, DE / Delaware County, PA:

·       Woodlawn Trustees Property

New Castle County, DE:

·       The Old Sheriff’s House

·       Old New Castle Courthouse

·       New Castle Green

·       Old Swedes Church National Historic Landmark

·       Fort Christina National Historic Landmark

Kent County, DE:

·       Dover Green

·       John Dickinson Plantation National Historic Landmark

Sussex County, DE:

·       Ryves Holt House

For over a decade, Senator Carper has worked with the Delaware delegation, federal officials, state officials, and community leaders to identify a theme and a park concept that fits well within our federal budget and is worthy of designation as a national park.  In January 2009, the Bush Administration finalized a National Park Service Special Resource Study concluding that a national park should be placed in Delaware and every year since Senator Carper has introduced legislation authorizing a national park.  Since 2009, there have been over a dozen public meetings on the national park effort – including legislative hearings in both chambers of Congress – which have shown overwhelming support for the national park idea.  

The Senate approved the First State National Historical Park as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. It passed the House last week. It will now go to the President for his signature.