The National Park Service will host a public meeting in Bedford Tuesday Jan 18, 2011 on a study that will help decide if the memorial qualifies to join the federal park system.
“The good news is we made it to this stage,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. “There are still a lot of steps to go before the park service would have to accept the memorial as a park or national monument.”
The cash-strapped memorial is currently operated largely on donations. Warner and other lawmakers have supported bringing it under park service management to provide financial stability. However, Warner pointed out, the federal system has financial challenges maintaining its existing facilities.
“The one thing we were warned from the beginning: don’t expect anything quick,” Warner said, referring to the park system’s involvement.
Private citizens and state leaders have already made a capital investment in creating a “world class memorial,” Warner said, adding that park service oversight would help in fiscal “predictability.” He said he thinks visitation could also increase.
Hurt said he supports the attraction’s inclusion into the federal park system “in the context of a balanced budget.”
“I think it’s an extremely important memorial,” he said. “I’m proud it’s in Bedford… it is a priority, it’s something I would fight for.”
Goodlatte also said the 2010 controversy over a bust of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin at the memorial could hurt. He doesn’t think Congress will accept the memorial into the park service if the Stalin bust is on site.
Memorial officials took Stalin down last fall but have indicated he could be redisplayed at some point with other Allied leader busts.
The purpose of the meeting Tuesday is to help citizens learn and comment about the study and criteria used to determine eligibility, according to a news release from the park service.
Criteria include national significance, suitability and feasibility for inclusion, and the need for park service management. The study may give alternative management approaches that do not involve congressional designation as a unit of the park system.
Terrence Moore of the park service said Tuesday’s meeting in Bedford would kick off the study. The process can take up to two years to complete, he said, and about 25 such studies are ongoing around the country.
The first question is if the memorial meets the criteria. “If we find that it does meet the criteria, we have to look at alternatives,” he said.
Warner said if the memorial were ever to disappear, it would be a blow to the valor of World War II veterans that the memorial bestows. Not every American can afford to go to Normandy, he said, so its preservation is important.
“I can’t think of a place that more honors their sacrifice than the memorial.”
Reprinted from the Lynchburg News and Advance
- Bust of Stalin to return to National D-Day Memorial (discoverbedford.com)