Groups Want Contractor Who Bulldozed Harpers Ferry Park Sued
Back in August I recounted an incident in which a contractor bulldozed a 45-foot-wide by 2,000-foot-long swath through a portion of Harper's Ferry National Historic Park so he could lay some utility lines.
Well, now the Civil War Preservation Trust, the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation want Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to take Jefferson Utilities, Inc., to court.
The utilities are intended to serve a 3,500-home subdivision being built on the park's boundary. While the contractor holds an easement to the land in question, he apparently failed to obtain permission before proceeding with the work.
"To ensure that these national treasures are preserved for the use and enjoyment of all Americans, alternations to national park lands must be thoroughly vetted through the NPS's permit process," says Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "In the case of this developer's proposal to alter land at Harper's Ferry, the permit review process was already under way, and it had found overwhelming public concern about the utilities and the thousands of homes they are designed to facilitate.
"Rather than abide by that process and honor whatever recommendation the NPS would eventually issue, we are concerned that the developer in this case willfully and knowingly violated the NPS permit process. If so, this is a deliberate disregard of the safeguards we have in place that protect our nation's historic treasures."
After the bulldozing occurred, a search of the land turned up several historic artifacts.
"The discovery of these artifacts suggests that additional historic remains likely were destroyed when the contracts removed dirt and debris from the Perry Orchard Tract," says Joy Oakes, the NPCA's mid-Atlantic senior regional director. "Interior officials must send a clear message that such deliberate illegal actions will not be tolerated on lands held in trust for all Americans."
You can read the groups' letter to Dirk here.