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House & Senate Funding Bills Would Put Critical Funding At Risk For Historic Sites & Parks, Like The Home Of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site In Duchess County 

Senator Says Tourism is a $500 Million a Year Industry in Dutchess and Any Measure That Threatens New York’s Historic Parks & Treasures Like the FDR Home Is Short-Sighted and Must Be Defeated 

Schumer: FDR Site is Jewel in the Crown of Hudson Valley’s Booming Tourism Industry and We Must Invest in its Upkeep

Standing at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged federal appropriators to reverse devastating budget cuts that national historic sites and parks depend on to maintain their grounds and ensure New Yorkers have free year-round park access. Schumer explained that the House and Senate FY 2016 Interior Appropriations Bills underfund programs that provide critical financial support for publicly funded historic parks, like The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Duchess County. As a result, Schumer launched a push to urge his colleagues to fully fund these critical programs, which are used to protect historic parks in Upstate New York so future generations can enjoy all of New York’s historical treasures.

“Our national historic sites and public parks, like the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt Historic Site – a Dutchess County tourism magnet – are being shortchanged by these proposed funding levels to vital federal programs, and it is just plain wrong. The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site is the crown jewel of Hudson Valley’s tourism industry, and as such, it requires constant upkeep and maintenance projects to keep it in tip-top shape. But these proposed budgets would force many of the site’s pending projects onto a backlog and put on the backburner many repairs the site desperately needs to preserve its history,” said Schumer. “As we celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service, I am urging my colleagues in Congress to protect and fully fund its programs, so residents and visitors alike can enjoy sites like this, across New York and the nation, for another 100 years.”

Schumer said that on the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS), House and Senate appropriators are proposing damaging cuts to its programs that provide critical funds to national historic sites and parks across New York State for maintenance, rehabilitation and repair. Specifically, Schumer that while the House of Representatives FY 2016 Interior Appropriations Bill contains an overall budget increase for operations of $52.2 million from the FY 2015 level, there are cuts within the bill that would put at risk financial support for many publicly funded historic parks, like the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Duchess County. In addition, while the Senate bill provides a $47.5 million increase to the overall NPS budget from FY 2015 levels, this amount is $193 million short of the President’s request. According to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shaun Donovan, the House bill in particular fails to provide adequate funding to prepare for the NPS Centennial in 2016, which would result in the delay of roughly 70 percent of park construction projects as well as 36 percent of repair and rehabilitation projects.

Schumer said that while House and Senate appropriators may have proposed incremental increases, they do not keep up with the current needs of the National Park Service or the over $11 billion backlog that has resulted from years of underfunding. Schumer said that while the House and Senate have proposed modest increases to operational budgets of around 50 million, but it comes up over $185 million short of the President’s request to meet demand for operations. In addition, the Senate and House budgets only fund the NPS Repair and Rehabilitation accounts at $15million for FY16, which is $133 million below the President’s request. This will put important rehabilitation projects, like that of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home, at risk due to underfunding.   

As a result, Schumer launched his push to urge federal appropriators to preserve this critical funding. Schumer said this funding is used to protect historic parks in Upstate New York so future generations can enjoy New York’s historical treasures for years to come, and these cuts would be devastating. In particular, Schumer pointed to the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site as an example of a site that would suffer under these funding cuts. Schumer said the Home of FDR, and other national historic sites like it nationwide, has a growing need of ongoing maintenance, in addition to rehabilitation and repair, projects that require significant federal funding if they are to be kept up year round. These budget shortfalls, however, could force the Home of FDR National Historic Site to delay several pending projects and fail to clear their backlogged maintenance projects, all of which are needed to ensure the site is in top-notch shape for visitors and tourists. Schumer said if the site is not maintained, it could have a negative impact on Dutchess County’s growing, nearly $500 million tourism industry. Schumer said that with the growth of home-grown projects like the Walkway Over the Hudson, now is not the time to cut investments in the tourism industry. Visitors have been flocking from all over the world to come to Dutchess and Schumer noted the need to invest in national sites to spur more tourism growth, rather than deplete it.

The FDR Home and the buildings on its campus all require regular maintenance and repairs to keep them in good condition, including, for example, repointing chimneys and building foundations, along with replacing roofs and heating and cooling (HVAC) systems. While the FDR National Historic Site has received funding for maintenance in recent years, additional work is needed and, once repairs are completed, the NPS will need to stay on top of its cyclic repair needs to ensure that this important site remains in top condition. According to the FDR Historic Site, there is still much deferred maintenance that must be completed. According to the NPS Deferred Maintenance List, as of September 30, 2014, the Home of FDR National Historic Site held a deferred maintenance cost of $19,014,579.

In addition to these ongoing maintenance needs, Schumer said there are three specific projects the site requires in terms of rehabilitation and repair that could be backlogged, further delayed or put off indefinitely if these NPS cuts are passed through Congress. First, rehabilitation of the exterior to the site’s Duplex – which is located behind the Roosevelt Home and is visible along the trail to the Hudson River – is estimated to cost $106,988. This project would include siding and woodwork of the FDR home’s duplex building, as it is in poor condition and requires repairs, replacement and painting. Second, the FDR site’s historic greenhouse requires repairs to its wood ceiling, wall panels and doors, as they are now rotting and falling down. In addition, the insulation is exposed throughout much of the interior and the windows need re-glazing. Schumer said this building is particularly special to the campus, as the greenhouse is located in the gravesite garden where both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt are buried. These repairs are expected to cost $8,760. Finally, the site’s Bellefield mansion windows and doors suffer from moisture damage, peeling paint, rotted wood components, broken hardware and a loss of putty around the glazing. The anticipated cost for repairs is $63,511. These would all be repaired and restored if funding permits, which Schumer said is particularly important because the yellow mansion is visible from the main entrance of the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. 

Schumer was joined by Sarah Olson, Superintendent of the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt-Van Buren National Historic Sites.

“The increase in maintenance funds proposed in the President’s 2016 budget would help ensure that we can protect and keep in good condition the FDR Home and the buildings surrounding it,” said Roosevelt-Vanderbilt-Van Buren National Historic Sites Superintendent Sarah Olson. 

In addition to these repairs, there are three other historic sites in the area with extensive maintenance backlogs would be adversely affected by the proposed budget. In fact, Site Superintendent Sarah Olson estimates there is roughly $70 million worth of deferred maintenance to be completed in the four sites she oversees, including the FDR Home:

-          The Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site has a total of $17,157,180 in deferred maintenance costs,

-          The Martin Van Buren National Historic Site has a total of $1,483,980 in deferred maintenance,

-          The Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site has a total of $32,915,802 in deferred maintenance costs,

-          And the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site has a total of $19,014,579 in deferred maintenance costs.

In light of the disastrous impacts these budgets could have on projects in Dutchess County, Schumer is calling on federal appropriators to adequately fund these programs to avoid inflicting harm on historic sites and parks in Upstate New York, including Dutchess County’s treasure, the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt Historic Site. As one of the centerpieces of the County’s $500 million tourism industry, the site relies on constant upgrades and maintenance projects to remain in good condition. NPS officials estimate that the proposed cuts, which fall dramatically below the president’s budget requests, would increase the number of deferred maintenance projects and create unsustainable backlogs. The Director of the President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shawn Donovan recently wrote to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers [R-KY] and Ranking Member Nita Lowey [D-NY] urging committee members of both parties to reverse these proposed budgets.