From Hampton Commons: Hours spent on the road and in meetings about Fort Monroe produce encouraging results
On March 16, 2011, in The Mayor’s Posts, by The Honorable Molly Joseph Ward, Mayor of the City of Hampton; reprinted herein by permission.
As was recently reported in the local paper, several city representatives spent the better part of last week either on the road or meeting with individuals and organizations critical to advancing the city’s vision for Fort Monroe. This is an account of how our travels and efforts unfolded over the course of the week:
Tuesday was spent at the Pentagon with Terrie Suit, Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness (and soon to be a Secretary to the Governor) and the Chair of the Fort Monroe Authority (FMA), Mike Coleman, from Terrie Suit’s office and BRAC Coordinator for the Commonwealth, Bruce Sturk, Director of Federal Facilities for the City of Hampton, Bill Armbruster, Executive Director of the FMA and members of his staff and legal advisors. We were there to talk to the Army about the pending closure of the Fort. We started at 9 and finished around 4:30.
The Pentagon is a maze, and it is both legally and logistically required that visitors to the building be escorted. We met with various departments within the Army over the duration of the day, each with a different purpose and different goals. One particularly uplifting meeting was with the museum curators for the Army who ensured everyone that the Casemate Museum and its collection would stay at the Fort. We headed back to Hampton Tuesday evening to prepare for the Council Meetings on Wednesday.
After the Wednesday evening meeting, Mary Bunting, Bruce Sturk and I got back in the car and headed for DC again, this time to work on the effort to gain a National Park Service unit at the Fort. We ran into a difficult rainstorm, but Bruce was driving and he navigated our way north with great skill.
Thursday morning we started the day at the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill and met with Congressman Forbes, Congressman Rigell, Congressman Wittman and Congressman Scott. We then caught a cab to make it to the Senate side in time to meet with Senator Webb and Senator Warner. Each member was extraordinarily generous with his time, and enormously supportive of the National Park Service initiative.
Friday we had breakfast with representatives from the National Park Conservation Association and then headed to the Department of the Interior to meet with Jonathan Jarvis, the Director of the National Park Service, and his team. The Director spent over an hour with us and was enormously positive about wanting to see a National Park Service unit at Fort Monroe.
At the end of the day, we still have many challenges ahead as the Army prepares to leave in September. We do have consensus on the desirability of a National Park Service unit but there are hurdles in front of us, not the least of which is funding to support the perpetual care of the historic resources at the Fort.