SCHUMER URGES FEDS TO FAST TRACK ESTABLISHMENT OF TUBMAN PARK – A RECENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN LOCALS AND FEDS PAVES THE WAY FOR THE PARK TO BECOME A REALITY, BUT DOJ/DOI & NPS STILL NEED TO COMPLETE FINAL STEPS
Schumer Authored and Passed Legislation Creating A Historical National Park Celebrating The Life Of American Hero Harriet Tubman, In Her Longtime Home Of Auburn; But Park Must First Be Officially Established Under Nat’l Park Service
In Order To Make Park A Reality, DOI & DOJ Need To Complete A Land Transfer To Establish Site As Official Unit Of NPS – Schumer Urges Feds to Expedite the Recent Agreement That Would Open Tubman Park To The Public
Schumer to Feds: Expedite Land Transfer Agreement So The Park Can Tell Story of Harriet Tubman’s Extraordinary Life For Current and Future Generations
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Department of Interior (DOI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fast track the pending land transfer decision – a final hurdle needed to formally establish the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, in Auburn, NY.
“It is critical that the Department of Interior and Department of Justice make this agreement a priority and quickly bring it over the finish line,” said Schumer. “That’s why I am urging the Department of Interior and the Department of Justice to dedicate all resources necessary to get the land transfer agreement completed as soon as possible. The Tubman Historic Park in Auburn, New York will be a magnet for visitors that will tell the amazing story of Harriet Tubman’s life – an American hero if ever there was one – and I will continue to fight tooth and nail until this dream is made a reality.”
Schumer explained that, in order to make Tubman Park a reality, the DOI and DOJ must complete a land transfer agreement that would officially establish the park as a unit of National Park Service (NPS). Specifically, the federal government must acquire an interest in the land that makes up the park to meet the necessary requirements; this would then allow the park to become officially established, allowing for the unit be become eligible for funding.
Schumer noted that in order for the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park to open to the public as a unit of the National Park Service, it must first be officially established by acquiring a sufficient quantity of land, or interests in land, to constitute a manageable park unit. At this point, the final step to get this park established is for the federal government to conduct a land transfer agreement with African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The DOI has already reached a general agreement with local stakeholders on the terms of the transfer, however, the final steps of the land transfer still must be completed by the DOI and DOJ.
Schumer said these two federal agencies must finish these agreements in a timely manner to ensure the park can be enjoyed by local residents and tourists as soon as possible. Under the agreement, the Harriet Tubman Home, Inc. and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church agreed to sell their ownership in the historical Thompson Memorial Church and the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged Rectory to the DOI. Other pieces of the property within the park’s boundary, Harriet Tubman’s Brick Residence, Tubman home for the Ages and the historical barn, will be jointly managed and operated by the National Park Service and Harriet Tubman Home, Inc. through a preservation easement. The Establishment Agreement will also allow for the National Park Service to establish a manageable unit within the park’s boundary.
Schumer said it is critical that the land transfer agreement be approved as soon as possible 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 DOI has reached an agreement with local stakeholders to obtain the land necessary to establish this park as a unit of the National Park Service, the DOI and DOJ should dedicate all necessary resources and attention to moving this process forward and approving the land transfer agreement in a timely manner so the park will be eligible for future funding. The community has invested significant resources in making the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park a reality and it is critical that the agreement be approved so the unit can be included in the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget and, therefore, be made open to the public.
Schumer has long fought to make Tubman Park a reality. Most recently, 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 included a provision that created 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.
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.
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