Tom Carper still wants Delaware to have a National Park in the state. Representatives of the senator's office, the Delaware Division of Historic and Cultural Affairs and the National Park Service held an open house today to discuss the latest legislative plans for the long awaited national park.

 

As congress wrapped up the end of 2012, a decision on the proposal had not been made.  That in effect killed the proposal once again.  However, policy advisor’s from Carper’s camp are confident that it will still be very much a priority among congress this year.

“This past congress we did have movement on the legislative front, we did have a hearing on the house side, we had a hearing on the senate side in the energy and natural resources committee and it made it out of committee with a voice vote, that means there was not a recorded vote for that legislation,” said Laura Haynes, senior policy advisor for Sen. Carper. “We were very close to getting it passed out of the senate, we had one person holing it up in the senate and that person's concerns was not with our bill, it was more concern with ‘why are you getting a park when I’m not getting a park,’ concerns.”

Haynes added that Sen. Carper plans to reintroduce The First State Historical Park act this year with the inclusion of the Woodlawn property.

The Woodlawn property was purchased by the Conservation Fund with the purpose of donating the land to the national park and would bring the total to eight official sites in the legislation including The Old Sheriff's House, Fort Christina, Old Swedes Church, Old New Castle Courthouse, John Dickinson Plantation, Dover Green and Ryves Holt House.

There are two ways for the national park legislation to be passed, the first is to have a vote in congress, and the second is the Antiquities Act, which gives the president the authority to name a national monument.

In order for the First State Historical Park to be considered under the Antiquities Act, the property must be owned by the federal government.

"Right now, with Delaware, since the lands that are being looked at for the park are not now in federal ownership, they could not be made into a national monument,” said Ross.

Haynes said if they can get a few pieces of property transferred to federal ownership, it would increase the chances of approving the legislation under the Antiquities Act.  

“There needs to be some anchor, some controlling property for the federal government to be able to create a national monument and fortunately the Woodlawn property has opened up and through the conservation funds efforts there is money to donate the property,” Haynes said.

While the Woodlawn property provides an advantage, Haynes said it isn’t enough. They also need the Sheriff’s House to make a stronger case.

"The Woodlawn property itself, while it is historically significant, the sheriff's house makes it a much stronger national monument because we want to get as many of our other sites through easements included into the national monument, the sheriff's house provides us with that anchor.”

The remaining six sites would go under easement, meaning the property owner and the park service has to come to an agreement in the legislation.