04.10.15

SCHUMER, STANDING WITH HARRIET TUBMAN’S RELATIVES, URGES NATIONAL PARK SERVICE TO PUT TUBMAN PARK ON FAST TRACK & FINALIZE DETAILS TO GET TUBMAN PARK UP & RUNNING ASAP—SENATOR SAYS PARK SERVICE NEEDS TO WORK WITH LOCALS ON PREPARING PROPERTY FOR TRANSFER TO FEDS & OVERCOME LAST REMAINING OBSTACLES STANDING IN WAY

Schumer Fought To Pass Legislation Authorizing A National Historical Park Honoring The Life of American Hero Harriet Tubman at Her Auburn Home—But Obstacles Still Remain To Open Park


Schumer Says Feds Must Work With Locals To Make Tubman Park Eligible For Necessary & Crucial Federal Funding; As Official Unit Of National Park Service, Auburn Will Be Eligible For Entirely New Revenue Stream 

Schumer to NPS: In The Spirit Of Tubman, Work With Local Advocates To Make Park A Reality

 

Today, at the Tubman Home/Visitor’s Center, standing with Harriet Tubman relatives, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the National Park Service (NPS) to work with Auburn and Harriet Tubman Home officials to finalize details that will formally put Harriet Tubman National Historical Park on the fast track to being established and receiving critical federal funding. Schumer explained that, in order for Tubman Park to become a reality and be eligible for the necessary funding, it must be officially established by the NPS through some form of land ownership or land rights agreement. Currently, the NPS is still negotiating with locals over the land transfer options and it remains a major obstacle standing in the way of opening the park, which will include the Home for the Aged, the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church in Auburn, and Tubman's former residence in Fleming. As a result, Schumer urged the NPS to finalize these details as quickly as possible, so it can be established as a park, and be made eligible for federal funds. Last year, Schumer successfully passed legislation, as a part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization bill, to create a national park honoring the life of the American hero Harriet Tubman at her home in Central New York.

 

“Harriet Tubman, who called Auburn her home, is a pioneer and a true American hero who deserves to be honored for her bravery, compassion, and service to this nation. That is why I fought hard to pass a bill last Congress that authorized NPS to preserve her home as a unit of the National Historic Park Service. Now that the groundwork has been laid, it is high-time we formally establish this park so that we can secure the necessary funding that will allow it to operate attract more visitors to the area. That is why I am urging the National Park Service to work with locals to ensure the property ownership details that will allow this park to become a reality are finalized ASAP,” saidSchumer. “The amazing story of her life is one that deserves to be told, which is why I will continue to fight tooth and nail to see this cross the finish line.”

 

Schumer previously fought for and passed legislation to authorize the creation of the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn as a National Historical Park, in order to honor the life of the American hero Harriet Tubman at her home in Central New York. This legislation was passed as a part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and will also encompass the Tubman Home for the Aged, the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church and Rectory. Nestled in Cayuga County. The Harriet Tubman National Park will provide a much-needed spark to the local and regional economy, while ensuring the special historical atmosphere and history that surrounds the area stays intact and is available to the general public.

 

Now that the park has been authorized for creation, Schumer said the next step in the process is formally establishing it so that the park can open as a unit of the National Park Service to the public. Schumer said that in order for Tubman Park to receive the critical federal funding it needs, it must be officially established by the National Park Service (NPS) through some form of land ownership or land rights agreement. The NPS is still negotiating with Auburn and Harriet Tubman Home officials over possible options for NPS to acquire a sufficient stake in the property, which remains a major obstacle standing in the way of opening the park.  As a result, Schumer urged the NPS to dedicate all necessary resources and attention to finalize these details as soon as possible so that the park can be established and, therefore, become eligible for the necessary federal funds to help in its operation. Schumer said until the issues related to the land transfer are finalized nothing else can move forward.

 

Schumer said it is critical that the NPS prioritize its efforts to reach an agreement with the current land owners of the Tubman site so that the surrounding community can best capitalize on the historical significance of the Harriet Tubman home by preserving this site and telling its important story in American history for generations to come. While Schumer said he is pleased that the NPS has begun some outreach with local stakeholders to chart a long term vision for this most important site, the NPS should do more and dedicate all necessary resources and attention to moving this process forward and finalizing these land ownership details in a timely manner. The community has invested significant resources in making the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park a reality and it is critical that NPS work with the local stakeholders to reach an agreement immediately so that the unit can be included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget and later open to the public.

 

Schumer said there is much to gain from allowing the park to become established and he does not want it to get caught up in bureaucratic red tape. The Cayuga County Office of Tourism estimates approximately 70 new jobs would be supported and tourism spending in Cayuga would increase by $3.12 million annually as a result of the establishment of the park. Annual attendance is expected to increase by an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 visitors per year as well, based on data from similar national parks.

 

Last year, Schumer successfully passed legislation, as a part of the national defense bill, to create a national park honoring the life of the American hero Harriet Tubman at her home in Central New York. The provision included creating two National Historical Parks, one in New York and one in Maryland. The National Historical Park in New York would be located in Auburn and commemorates the later years of Harriet Tubman’s life where she was active in the women’s suffrage movement and in providing for the welfare of aged African Americans. The National Historical Park in Maryland would trace Tubman’s early life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she was born and later escaped from slavery to become one of the leaders on the Underground Railroad.

 

Schumer was joined by relatives of Harriet Tubman, The Auburn Mayor’s Office, Cayuga County legislative members and members of the Harriet Tubman Booster club.

 

“Senator Schumer’s push here today is meant to put Harriet Tubman at the top of the National Park Service’s list,” said Auburn Mayor Michael Quill. “He got the job done in Congress and now we’ve got to get the job done here locally and this requires NPS’ undivided attention. The benefits this park will have on the City of Auburn are immense and the history about Harriet we will be able to preserve and share with future generations means a lot to this community. That’s why we want to move full speed ahead and finalize these final details with the Senator’s guidance.”  

 

The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park would include several important historical structures in Auburn.  They include Tubman’s home, the Home for the Aged she established, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church, and the Fort Hill Cemetery where she is buried.

 

Harriet Tubman was born in Dorchester County, Maryland, where she spent nearly 30 years as a slave.  She escaped slavery in 1849, but returned to the Eastern Shore several times over the course of 10 years to lead hundreds of African Americans to freedom in the North.  Known as “Moses” by African-American and white abolitionists, she reportedly never lost a “passenger” on the Underground Railroad. In Maryland, The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park would include historically important landscape in Dorchester, Caroline and Talbot counties that are evocative of the life of Harriet Tubman.

 

A copy of Schumer’s letter to NPS appears below:

 

Dear Director Jarvis:

 

I write to urge the National Park Service (NPS) to work collaboratively with local stakeholders to create a new unit of the National Park Service, the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn, New York, as authorized in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).   It is critical that the NPS prioritizes its efforts to reach an agreement with the current land owners of the Tubman site. I am pleased to hear that NPS has begun outreach with local stakeholders to chart a long-term vision for this most important site. I encourage your agency to continue these efforts so that the surrounding community can best benefit from the historical significance of the Harriet Tubman home by preserving this site and telling its important story in American history for generations to come.

 

As you know, in order for the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park to be eligible for necessary federal funding to open to the public as a unit of the NPS, it must first be officially established by acquiring a sufficient quantity of land, or interests in land, to constitute a manageable park unit. I understand that NPS is still in negotiations over possible options to meet this requirement and I urge the NPS to dedicate all necessary resources and attention to moving this process forward in the most timely manner. The community has invested significant resources in making the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park a reality and it is critical that NPS work with the local stakeholders to reach an agreement immediately so that the unit can be included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget and later open to the public.        

 

Again, I urge you to finalize all agreements necessary for the establishment of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, so that the import legacy of Harriet Tubman can be told through the preservation of the site which includes the Tubman Home for the Aged, the Thompson Memorial AME Zion Church, and Harriet Tubman's former residence. All of these components will help the park tell the important story of Harriet Tubman’s heroic life for future generations. Therefore, I urge you to work closely with locals to create a unit of the NPS that truly honors the legacy of Harriet Tubman in the most timely manner possible.

 

I appreciate your attention to this important request and look forward to working with you and the community of Auburn, New York.

 

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

 

###



Previous Article Next Article