Showdown at Valley Forge Over Land Use

<p>History buffs clash over the proper use of Valley Forge site- preserved national park land, or 142,000-square-foot museum and conference center?</p>
June 2, 2008, 9am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"A local planning board has approved a proposal to build a $250 million visitor center and conference facilities on privately owned land in Valley Forge National Historical Park. Opponents say the decision increases the risk of commercial development in other scenic and historic national parks."

"Opponents say the site of the proposed complex played a critical role in the Revolutionary War because it was there that Washington's troops, despite heavy losses during a harsh winter, acquired the discipline that allowed them to defeat the British army.

Critics also argue that the center would create a dangerous precedent of building on "inholdings," parcels of privately owned land within the boundaries of national parks but which have not been acquired by the National Park Service because of lack of money.

"If we can build on hallowed ground that was occupied by George Washington and the Continental Army, then nowhere is safe," said Cinda Waldbuesser, a spokeswoman for the National Parks Conservation Association. "This is a prime example of what happens when Congress doesn't provide the funding to purchase the lands."

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Published on Friday, May 30, 2008 in The New York Times
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