Videos: Gettysburg Military Park plans for the future

A few week ago, I attended an operational update at Gettysburg National Military Park. Here are a few upcoming (and ongoing) projects that the park either has or will undertake over the next few months. All information is according to operational update documents from the park unless otherwise noted.

1. Armory on West Confederate Avenue will house offices, cannon restoration shop

In January, the Commonwealth of Pa. donated the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory along West Confederate Avenue to the park’s nonprofit partner, the Gettysburg Foundation. The 3.67-acre property includes the 1938 art deco armory building plus a three-bay garage and storage shed. The Foundation plans to rehabilitate the two buildings before donating them to the park, which will use the main building for park offices and the garage as a cannon restoration shop. Use of the armory building for park offices would meet a long-standing need for consolidation of office spaces from five locations throughout the park. Read more about this project on the park’s blog.

2. Park continues assessment of Little Round Top

The park continues to look at ways to improve pedestrian and bus traffic at Little Round Top, one of the park’s most popular destinations. The area, as Park Superintendent Ed Clark said in a recent interview, has been “loved to death” and is need of significant repairs, but officials are not yet sure what those changes will entail. The park has initiated an environmental assessment of the area, which it anticipates will begin in earnest this June.

“For us to just go off and design something, it might not work for the bus industry, it might not work for the battlefield guides, or it might not work the way the public wants. You want to make sure you listen to a lot of those perspectives before you really hone in on what exactly it is you’re going to do.”

– Park Superintendent Ed Clark in a recent interview

3. Cannon restoration continues

The park has focused extensively on cannon restoration over the past few months. In 1999, the Monument Preservation Branch began restoration of 400 cannon carriages within the park. Carriages 312 through 316 are currently receiving preservation treatment, and two carriages removed from the from the Peace Light area for paint repairs were returned in early February. Cannons have also been reset recently at Bachman’s battery on South Confederate Avenue and Gibb’s battery on the north slope of Little Round Top, management assistant Katie Lawhon said in a recent blog post.

For the past 16 years, the Gettysburg Foundation has completed cannon restorations in a rented warehouse space in downtown Gettysburg at cost of $30,000 per year. Once the armory project is completed, however, the foundation hopes to devote those funds to other preservation and education projects.

4. Park continues work with Lincoln Train Station, Freedom Transit

The park is also continuing some of its ongoing endeavors in downtown Gettysburg.

Boundary legislation at the Lincoln Train Station

In January, the Gettysburg Foundation purchased the Lincoln Train Station from the Borough of Gettysburg at a cost of  $500,000. not including closing and other ancillary and associated costs. The Foundation plans to donate it to the park once federal legislation to expand the park’s boundaries has passed. This legislation would add the train station and 45 acres of land at the base of Big Round Top to the park. In the meantime, Destination Gettysburg, formerly the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, continues to operate the train station as an orientation and information center for the public.  Click here to read more about the train station.

Continued evaluation of Freedom Transit

In March, a team from the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Transportation visited Gettysburg to determine the role of Freedom Transit in the Gettysburg community. The group has completed its analysis on ridership and cost data and continues to quantify the economic benefits of the service. The Park Service will complete its portion of the study this spring. Freedom Transit’s fixed-route bus service will run at least through June 30, Rich Farr, executive director of Rabbittransit, said earlier this year.

5. Parts of North Cemetery Ridge returned to their historic appearance

The north parking lot at North Cemetery Ridge that formerly was used for the old Visitors Center in Gettysburg. (Shane Dunlap - The Evening Sun)

The north parking lot at North Cemetery Ridge that formerly was used for the old Visitors Center in Gettysburg. (Shane Dunlap – The Evening Sun)

As part of a project to return key portions of the battlefield to their 1863 appearance, the Gettysburg National Military Park recently removed the old Visitors Center parking lot on North Cemetery Ridge. In February, C.E. Williams, a contractor for the Gettysburg Foundation, prepared to tear out the parking lot’s asphalt, regrade the area to its historic profile and plant meadow grasses. This process was wrapping up earlier this month, park officials said at the operational update. Volunteers will build historically-accurate fencing on the site during the Gettysburg Foundation’s Friends of Gettysburg annual volunteer day in June. Click here to read more about the Cemetery Ridge Project.

For more information on upcoming projects, check out the park’s blog, From the Fields of Gettysburg.


About Jenni Wentz

Jennifer Wentz has covered Hanover and Adams County as a reporter and, more recently, digital editor since January 2014. Follow her on Twitter @jenni_wentz.
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