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Archive for April 6th, 2009

Dozens of volunteers met at the Wilderness on Saturday to help pick up trash and clear brush at the historic battlefield.  The cleanup was part of the Civil War Preservation Trust’s annual “Park Day” that helps beautify battlefields across the country.  The Friends of Wilderness Battlefield were instrumental in arranging for the volunteers at the Wilderness on Saturday and putting them to work sprucing up the battlefield in advance of the busy summer tourist season.  The National Park Service often does not have the money or manpower for cleanup efforts like the one on Saturday, which makes the hardwork of the volunteers over the weekend that much more significant.  The Wilderness Battlefield Park Day was a tremendous success and an excellent example of how much people support the battlefield park and value its presence in the community.

The Free Lance-Star also has an article on Park Day at the Wilderness Battlefield.

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Yesterday the Free Lance-Star ran a terrific editorial, entitled “Battle plans,” in support of the King family and preservation community’s partnership in pursuing a gateway visioning study for the Wilderness Battlefield and Orange County.  The editorial points out that this is a good faith effort from not just preservationists, but also from a major landowner in the area.  It is not simply a “delaying tactic” as some have suggested, but rather it is a sincere process that hopes to carefully study the Wilderness Battlefield gateway area and find the best possible solution to protect the National Park and allow for economic development in Orange County.

The editorial calls on Orange County officials to join the process along with the King family and the preservation community.  This the time to take a step back and properly plan what development should look like next door to a National Park and at the entrance to Orange County because, as the editorial correctly notes, “once the asphalt is down, history is lost.”

The full editorial is below:

Battle plans

April 5, 2009

IT’S GRATIFYING to know that a major landowner in eastern Orange County is willing to sit down with preservationists to discuss how best to develop that area. But will county officials do the same?

The location is, of course, the site of the second battle of The Wilderness: this one over the proposed construction of a Wal-Mart near the original Civil War battlefield. The tug-and-pull between the county, landowners, Wal-Mart, and preservationists has history and economics crossing swords.

The King family, which owns over 2,000 acres in the vicinity (although not the proposed Wal-Mart site), will join in discussions with the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition on how best to balance the economic needs of the county, their rights and desires as property owners, and the goals of preservationists. This makes perfect sense, because all sides involved have valid points.

Now if only county supervisors would concur. Their invitation by the preservationists to come to the table in January was met with a sniff. The majority saw it as a ruse to delay their decision on Wal-Mart. It’s unclear whether the King family’s decision to join the talks will affect the supervisors, but it should.

The Wal-Mart proposal is not by-right development; supervisors must OK the plan. So why not participate in open discussions before the fact? It’s better to break bread before breaking ground. Once the asphalt is down, history is lost.

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