03 Oct 2013

Odama Administration Spends Money to Shut Down Privately-Funded, Privately-Operated Park Costing the Government Nothing

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Claude Moore Colonial Farm, McLean, Virginia

The Obama Administration sent the National Park Service out to shut down McLean, Virginia’s 1771 Claude Moore Colonial Farm, a privately funded and operated park, which is federally-owned, but which has received no federal monies since 1980 and which is not actually costing the federal government a dime.

The park’s managing director writes:

The first casualty of this arbitrary action was the McLean Chamber of Commerce who were having a large annual event at the Pavilions on Tuesday evening. The NPS sent the Park Police over to remove the Pavilions staff and Chamber volunteers from the property while they were trying to set up for their event. Fortunately, the Chamber has friends and they were able to move to another location and salvage what was left of their party. You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don’t have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money.

Every appeal our Board of Directors made to the NPS administration was denied. They feel that as “landlord” they have absolute control of their property. The NPS is quoted today in the Washington Post saying “The monuments are closed because, during a shutdown, there is no money to pay the rangers who staff them”, said the Park Service spokeswoman, Carol Bradley Johnson.” And the agency is worried about the security of the memorials and the safety of visitors at unstaffed sites. “It is not something we enjoy doing,” Johnson said. “But it’s important that we protect and preserve our monuments for future generations.”

We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm. And if you were to park on the grass and visit on your own, you run the risk of being arrested. Of course, that will cost the NPS staff salaries to police the Farm against intruders while leaving it open will cost them nothing. …

In all the years I have worked with the National Park Service, first as a volunteer for 6 years in Richmond where I grew up, then as an NPS employee at the for 8 very long years and now enjoyably as managing director for the last 32 years – I have never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group representing the NPS.

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