Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jimmy Carter National Park?

Cheryl Chumley sounds the pork alarm today in the Washington Examiner, with her op-ed piece about H.R.1471, which will expand the boundary of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in the State of Georgia, to redesignate it as a National Historical Park.  This bill was passed by a voice vote in the House and sent to the Senate yesterday.  The Senate has a similar bill, S742, introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson back in March.

Perhaps this expansion is needed to accommodate the throngs of people making the trek to Plains, Georgia each year to pay tribute to the worst president in American history.  That's not the case, as Chumley explains:
A National Historic Site is a National Park Service program that already receives federal dollars. But little justification outside of political favor exists for this upgrade to Historical Park, and expanded boundaries will bring the demand for larger appropriations.

On top of that, the National Park Service already reports a dwindling number of visitors to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, recording 87,413 who made the trip in fiscal 2006 compared with 84,355 in fiscal 2008. It's doubtful the addition of the nearby visitors center to the site, and a change of label from Historic Site to Historical Park, would dramatically improve the attendance levels.

NPS forecasts for traveler turnout to the site don't bode well, either. By 2010, site visits are only expected to rise by 1.4 percent from 2008 levels, according to the Public Use Statistics Office within the NPS.
Kurt Repanshek, at the National Parks Traveler, raised questions back in June:
Is this how low the bar has dropped for inclusion into the National Park System? Is it really so low that a gas station once owned by the beer-swilling brother of President Jimmy Carter should be managed as part of a national historical park by the National Park Service?

Sure, sure, sure, President Carter was the only Georgian to reach the White House as resident, and Billy Carter certainly attracted more than his share of notoriety -- Billy Beer, anyone? But why oh why would anyone want to include Billy's gas station at 216 West Church Street in the heart of downtown Plains, Georgia (Pop. 635) in a national historical park honoring President Carter?

Oh, that's right. While the NPS currently oversees the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, pending legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., and U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., would transform the "historic site" into a national "historical park." By comparison, Valley Forge is also a national historical park, one without an official gas station to the best of my recollection.
The interesting tidbit is this:
The welcome center is the least visited of all 11 state-run visitors sites in Georgia, only logging 65,000 visitors in the past year, according to media reports in February and March. So the state, facing a reported deficit of $2.6 billion, looked to cut $186,000 in funding to the center.
What a boondoggle!  The State of Georgia can no longer afford to maintain the place, so we EXPAND it and send the bill to the federal government.

The fact that this legislation is sponsored and co-sponsored by Republicans Johnny Isakson, Saxby Chambliss, Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey is shameful.

1 comment:

  1. I would say, what a boondoggle! So the state of Georgia will expand, send the bill to the federal government who in turn will pass it along to us, the over burdened tax payers! They are so out of touch with reality!