Despite Public Concern, Planning Commission Recommends Passage of Commercial Development Proposal at Valley Forge National Historical Park
Last night, after hearing extensive public comment against a proposed ordinance to allow inappropriate commercial development on the historic commissary grounds at Valley Forge National Historical Park, the Lower Providence Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the Board of Supervisors approve the proposal. The land in question is within the park’s congressionally designated boundary, but is privately owned. The National Parks Conservation Association and local residents are urging the Board of Supervisors to deny this poorly conceived proposal.
“The issue at hand is not about whether to build an American Revolution museum, it is about the additional development allowed under this ordinance and whether this historic land is the appropriate place for a development of this size and scope,” said Cinda Waldbuesser, the National Parks Conservation Association's Pennsylvania program manager. “As well intentioned as the American Revolution Center may be, we must focus on what would be legally allowed if this ordinance is passed.”
In addition to a museum, the proposal would allow the landowner to build a hotel and conference center on the historic Pawling Farm, where units of the Continental Army were encamped at the end of the bitter winter of 1777-1778, and where General George Washington established the army’s commissary operation to bring order and security to distribution of precious camp supplies, ending the starvation of the troops.
“Part of the beauty of living here is the access to historic open space protected by Valley Forge National Historical Park,” said Craig Crawford, a resident of Lower Providence. “With many hotels and conference centers right down the street, I question the need to build more on the small amount of open space remaining in the area.”
The National Park Service and American Revolution Center (ARC) worked together for years on plans to build and operate an American Revolution museum within the park, on already disturbed land adjacent to the current Welcome Center where underutilized existing parking areas could be used.
“I would love to see the museum built in the originally proposed location near the current Welcome Center,” said Joanne Burns, a resident of Lower Providence. “Building a museum in that location would benefit the ARC, the park, local residents and park visitors.”
The Planning Commission’s vote, a complete reversal from its vote in June on a very similar ordinance, is only a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors. The board will make the final decision about the proposed development on September 6.
Since 1919, the nonpartisan, nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 330,000 members, and allies work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.
To review the proposed ordinance, visit www.lowerprovidence.org.