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Park Service sees Fort Monroe as historic site
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
The National Park Service supports establishing a park unit at Fort Monroe after the Army vacates the historic post next year.
The federal agency sent a letter this week to Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., discussing the Hampton military base.
Park service officials are calling for careful protection of the fort’s historic assets and a stronger plan to present parts of its history to the public.
The state is scheduled to take over the 570-acre base next September2011. It was slated for closure by the federal government in 2005 as part of a round of base closings to save money.
The base includes 170 historic buildings and the largest moated stone fort in the nation.
The park service’s primary interest is in 65 acres enclosed by the stone fort and circled by another 35 acres outside the moat, according to the letter from Dennis Reidenbach, director of the service’s northeast region.
Reidenbach wrote that part of the base is “most likely to attract future visitors and [that] contains Fort Monroe’s most historic resources.”
But Reidenbach added that the park service team that visited in July does not think it should get involved in managing the fort’s natural resources, including beaches and marshes and grassy open areas that are better suited for recreational uses.
Planners with the state-appointed Fort Monroe Authority envision a tourism destination with museums and other attractions focusing on the post's military history, in addition to private investment to attract visitors.