Friday, July 17, 2009

Civil War Battlefield Threatened

Please forgive this side trip to Virginia discuss an out-of-state preservation issue. Normally the mantra of preservation is think globally and act locally but I think this is an issue that has national significance and warrants stepping outside New Castle for a bit.

It's been dubbed the "Wilderness Walmart" after the Civil War's Wilderness Battlefield which is threatened by a proposed Walmart across the street. More specifically, Orange County, Virginia is considering a proposal to build a 138,000 sq. foot Walmart SuperCenter in a 51.6 acre development within 1/4 mile of Fredricksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (which includes the Wilderness and Chancellorsville battlefields in addition to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania).

For a brief history of the Battle of the Wilderness click here.

The County is in favor of the development because it will provide jobs and tax revenue. Preservationists argue that the development will hurt the long term preservation of the battlefield, and alternative sites are available that are more appropriate for the WM Supercenter. Building at a different location will still provide the jobs and tax benefits that the County desires.

I've been following the story for quite a while, but since the Historical Society visited Gettysburg last month it has risen higher on my radar screen (you may have heard about the proposal to build a casino in Gettysburg which was defeated).

Click here for a map of the battlefield and proposed Walmart location.

I decided to post this because earlier this week the Virginia governor Tim Kaine (D) and House of Delegates Speaker William Howell (R) sent a letter to the Orange County Board of Supervisors urging them to reconsider plans to build the Walmart on land adjacent to the battlefield, and look for an alternative site. Kudos to these state officials for reinforcing Virginia's long record of historic preservation throughout the state.

National preservation organizations have also weighed in. You can read their positions on the controversy here:

Civil War Preservation Trust

National Trust For Historic Preservation (NTHP)

If you want to voice your support for the protection of the Wilderness Battlefield and finding an alternative site for the Walmart there are a few things you can do:

Sign the NTHP's online petition here.

Send an email message to Orange County officials here.

To keep up with the story, I recently added another blog to my blogroll here. If you scroll down the screen you'll see it on the right side listed as "NO WILDERNESS WALMART." It's a blog opposing the construction of a Walmart Supercenter across the road from the Wilderness Battlefield in Orange County, Virginia.

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