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« President confirms Fort Monroe’s park designation
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About Hampton Roads, Tourism, Arts & Culture
by HR Partnership
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From the White House YouTube Channel: President Obama signs a declaration to declare Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, as a national monument on November 1, 2011.
More on Fort Monroe…
Tags: Fort Monroe, Hampton Roads, History, Virginia
November 2, 2011 at 2:25 pm (UTC -4)
Superintendent named for Fort Monroe National Monument
By Kate Wiltrout
© November 2, 2011
Yesterday, President Barack Obama created Fort Monroe National Monument. Tomorrow, Kirsten Talken-Spaulding, a 20-year park service veteran, will report to work as superintendent at the newly-designated 325-acre park in Hampton. The park service announced her appointment today.
The job will be something of a homecoming for the 45-year-old, who grew up in Williamsburg and has a biology degree from the College of William & Mary.
“Going to Fort Monroe was always a treat when we got to go as kids,” Talken-Spaulding said in a phone interview Wednesday. “Being able to serve in this way, and being able to come home to Fort Monroe, is really incredibly special to me.”
Talken-Spaulding has spent the past few years in Washington, first as chief ranger at National Capital Parks-East and then as a congressional fellow. In that role, she helped draft legislation to establish a national park at Fort Monroe. Since Obama used his executive authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the site – doing so at the urging of local and state officials and the region’s bipartisan congressional delegation – that legislation is no longer needed.
This won’t be the first time Talken-Spaulding reports to work at a new national park. She was the first ranger assigned to Mojave National Preserve in California after its establishment in 1994. Other assignments include stints at Prince William Forest Park in Virginia and Haleakala National Park in Hawaii.
Talken-Spaulding said she remembered learning in 2005 that the Army would leave Fort Monroe as part of a round of federal base closings, then heard about a grassroots effort to get the National Park Service involved.
“I thought, boy, wouldn’t it be something to be able to come home and serve the nation in a national park in my own backyard?” Talken-Spaulding said. “Little did I know, lo those many years ago, the potential truth of that.”
In coming months, Talken-Spaulding said, the park service will ask for public input on what types of services and programming people want offered at Fort Monroe, which includes the largest moated stone fort ever built in the U.S. Its role in the collapse of slavery during the Civil War will certainly be a focus, but Talken-Spaulding said the fort’s north beach area, comprising more than 200 acres of undeveloped land at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, is also important in telling the site’s story.
“You don’t open up a magic box and get a national park, because every national park is unique, and reflects its history and where it’s from and where it is. We really need to hear from the people in the area,” she said. ” We’re moving fast, but we also don’t want to sacrifice quality for speed.”
November 7, 2011 at 11:39 am (UTC -4)
A bipartisan triumph at Fort Monroe
© November 4, 2011
By Molly Ward
Nov. 1 was an amazing day not only for Hampton Roads but for Virginia and even the entire country when President Barack Obama designated Fort Monroe as a national monument.
Many people thought it was an impossible dream. Hampton is a small city without significant political clout. There’s a prolonged recession. Congress can’t agree on a federal budget. Partisan battles wage in Washington, D.C., and across the country.
In that context, how did Hampton’s Fort Monroe get federal attention and action? We bucked the national trend and came together.
The giants in this victory are Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner; Congressmen Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell, Bobby Scott and Rob Wittman; Gov. Bob McDonnell and his administration; former Gov. Tim Kaine; and state Sen. Mamie Locke. They all put aside politics, credit and blame to pursue the common good.
You don’t see this kind of collegiality much anymore. Generally speaking, we elected officials have ceased to have goals and have become completely enveloped in the process of not getting along.
On Tuesday, as I stood behind the president and watched him sign the executive order, I was thrilled for my city and the region and elated that the history of Fort Monroe will finally receive the national attention and stature it deserves. I also felt great pride in the leaders of the commonwealth.
Webb and Warner both dedicated an enormous amount of personal time and staff resources to make this monument happen, at a time when the goal did not appear to be within reach.
Rigell was all in from the beginning, and in all of our meetings and conversations, he never let on that he knew I supported his opponent during the last election or hinted that pursuing a national monument might be politically tricky for him.
Bobby Scott stayed razor-focused on the goal every step of the way, calling in favors and burning up phone lines he could have used for something else, all for a success in Rigell’s district. That’s what you call statesmanship.
Without the support of the governor and the Fort Monroe Authority board, which is expertly led by his Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security Terrie Suit, Fort Monroe National Monument literally could not and would not have happened.
McDonnell’s news release afterward said he was “both honored and humbled to have been a small part of the effort leading to this historic proclamation.”
That is more than an understatement. He could have flinched along the way, and this thing would have been dead in the water. In this day and time, to have a Republican governor pave the way for Obama to sign an executive order, all in pursuit of doing the right thing, is truly no less than heroic.
Rounding out this bipartisan effort is Kaine. Not knowing if anyone would ever know, he helped us through channels only he had the muscles to navigate.
Finally, Locke introduced the legislation that made Fort Monroe National Monument a possibility by getting the General Assembly to grant authority to the governor to transfer property to the National Park Service. Not only has she never taken credit for it, she didn’t let politics get in the way of doing the right thing.
Ultimately, we had the right people at the helm. Our elected leaders put doing the right thing above party lines.
That shows us the pathway to accomplish other goals important to the future of Hampton Roads, and it shows the rest of the nation that it is possible to find common ground and move forward on the things that truly matter.
Molly Ward is the mayor of Hampton and chairwoman of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.
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