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National Park Service holds meetings on Ft. Monroe's future
13News | Associated Press July 19, 2011 at 4:15 PM
HAMPTON - The National Park Service will hold two meetings on the future of Fort Monroe.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis toured the historic Army post on June 29 as the federal government considers making it part of the National Park Service.
Jarvis called Fort Monroe "a resource of exceptional historic interest that bookends the beginning and end of slavery in the United States."
The Army post, ordered closed by the base closure commission in 2005, will be turned over to the State of Virginia in mid-September.
Two meetings were scheduled for Tuesday, June 19 at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton. The first was from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and the second from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Officials say they will accept written comments or comments about the proposal can be submitted on Park Service Website through July 26.
Fort Monroe could become a National Park prior to September 15 if President Barack Obama signs a bill making Fort Monroe a park under the The Antiquities Act.
National park proponents have lobbied hard to make a portion of the 565-acre fort or the entire waterfront property part of the nation's national parks system.
Edgar Allen Poe was once stationed at the fort, and Jefferson Davis was imprisoned there.
It is also viewed as the birthplace of the Civil War freedom movement after three enslaved men fled the South for the Union stronghold. At Fort Monroe, General Benjamin Butler's 1861 "Contraband Decision" was made, which permitted untold thousands of enslaved people to find safe haven upon entering Union lines.
It is one of the few Union military installations in the South never occupied by Confederate forces during the Civil War.
Fort Monroe is a National Historic Landmark and contains a Third System fortification built for coastal defense between 1819 and 1834.
Completely surrounded by a moat, the six-sided stone fort is the only one of its kind left in the United States that is still an active Army post. In operation for over 180 years, it ranks third as the most continuously used military installation in the country.
Hampton councilman Ross Kearney has lived in Phoebus all his life. He says the city is trying to secure some of the federal funding made available to areas experiencing a base closure.
"Everybody is concerned. Everybody has locked arms in trying to get something done," said Kearney.
The councilman added that next month, the Phoebus Civic League will meet to talk about a couple of developments interested in doing business in the area.