RESTORE DETROIT’S HISTORIC FORT WAYNE AS A NATIONAL PARK
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We, the undersigned, support the revitalization of Fort Wayne as a national park in partnership with the City of Detroit.
Create Michigan’s Own Historic Urban National Park
Fort Wayne, Detroit’s jewel, has historical significance related to the indigenous community and the War of 1812, as it was the site of the signing of the Treaty of Springwells, which ended that conflict. Fort Wayne also has great significance to World War II veterans and the African American community, housing the National Tuskegee Airmen's Museum. Many men and women took their oath to serve our country on the grounds of Fort Wayne. The Fort is Detroit’s untapped resource. Were Fort Wayne to become a national park, it would join the ranks of such famous urban national parks like Fort McHenry in Baltimore (which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the “Star Spangled Banner”) and Fort Sumter in Charleston (where the Civil War began). These national parks have generated great economic benefits in terms of jobs and tourist dollars to their surrounding communities. As a national park, Fort Wayne could do the same for Detroit with both economic and cultural benefits to all of Southeast Michigan.
A Long, Rich History That Needs Saving
Ravaged by time and neglect, Fort Wayne needs its prominence within our nation’s history restored. Fort Wayne’s history dates back to 1000 AD, with Native American burial mounds in its immediate area. Fort Wayne was the site of the opening shots of the War of 1812 as well as the official ending of hostilities between the American Government and local Native Americans who sided with the British. Fort Wayne is the Midwest’s only star patterned fort, designed with artillery platforms for canons. Fort Wayne was the site where the Michigan 1st Volunteer Infantry Regiment was mustered into service just two weeks after the beginning of the Civil War. Fort Wayne was the heart of America’s “Arsenal of Democracy” during both World War I and World War II, serving as a bustling storage depot and logistical transportation hub.
A Secure Source of Funds For Restoration
If the City of Detroit donates the land for use as a national park, H.R. 146 (introduced by Carl Levin, U.S. Senator at the time, and approved by Congress in 2009, and also championed by Congressman John Dingell) creates a secure funding stream that would require the National Park Service to fund improvements and maintenance of Fort Wayne because of its relevance to the War of 1812 and the River Raisin regional network. The portion of the statute that pertains to the River Raisin National Battlefield Park provides:
If Monroe County or Wayne County, Michigan, or other willing landowners in either County offer to donate to the United States land relating to the Battles of the River Raisin on January 18 and 22, 1813, or the aftermath of the battles, the Secretary of the Interior . . . shall accept the donated land. . . The Secretary shall designate the acquired land as a unit of the National Park System.
A Rare Opportunity That Must be Seized
With the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge (“GHIB”) underway, now is the time to seize opportunities to improve a neglected part of Detroit’s Riverfront and history. The creation of an urban national park in the City of Detroit would be both forward-looking and historic, and a true boon to residents. Detroit is one of the few major United States cities that lacks a national park. Redeveloped, Fort Wayne would showcase a resurgent, dynamic Detroit immediately upon travelers’ arrival from Canada, giving them a positive first impression of the city. Redeveloped, Fort Wayne would be part of an enhanced network of pedestrian trails and bike paths (currently under development by the City of Detroit and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources) and complement the pedestrian/non-motorized land and access point for the GHIB. Now is the time to make Fort Wayne, Detroit’s jewel, shine.
Thank you for your consideration.
Michigan State Senator Stephanie Chang, Detroit City Councilmember Raquel Castañeda-López, and the undersigned individuals
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