Milford, PA- Cross and the Star on the Knob denied by National Park Service

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We ask now that you reach out to the following address with a respectful, and I stress respectful, email call or letter expressing your support of the star.

Honorable: Ryan Zinke
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240

feedback@ios.doi.gov

(202) 208-3100

Since the original request for your voices, the following has occurred on this issue:

After the meeting 8 months ago with the NPS, the NPS asked for time to consider the issue. In May it was said verbally that the local NPS would recommend to the National NPS office that the Star be continued but not the cross. The Lions club accepted this, and agreed to wait for a ruling from the National NPS office. It was even suggested that the local NPS office would assist the Lions with updating the electrical source to improve safety in this area. 

With no further written communication on or around December 2, Park Service Officials went to the Knob and disassembled the star structure. The next day the Lions Club secretary was called and asked to pick it up. No written final determination was provided, no prior warning was given. 

This remains distressing in that grand displays of the Holidays remain in Washington DC while our "Historic Traditional Multi-cultural Star was recently physically dismantled by NPS Rangers in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Our Historic Ethnography Traditional Star has been on display since 1930 and the electric was first supplied from one of our historic waterwheels. This will be the first time in 87 years, four generations of Pike County residents will not see our “Historic Star”.

Many of you may have noticed the Star traveling west out of Milford which was built by private property owner Don Quick. We thank Mr. Quick for trying to keep our tradition alive.

 

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April 2017:

Milford PA- Annual Tradition of Lighted Star in December) on the "Knob" disallowed by National Park Service representative John J. Donahue: National Park Superintendent

Mailing Address:
1978 River Road
Bushkill, PA 18324
Phone: (570) 426-2452

 

This is the official telephone contact number for the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. This telephone is monitored during business hours, from Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 4: 30 pm. Calls received after those times, will be reviewed the next available business day

During my lifetime the local Lions Club in our county seat has had a holiday tradition of climbing the mountain over Milford and erect a star and a cross for the Winter and Spring holidays. This tradition has been going on in our area for at least 40 years. This tradition happens in an area of ground that is above the town center called the “knob”. The community has looked for these symbols of light during the holidays their whole lives. Many in the community value this tradition and wish for it to continue for another 50 years and beyond.

The National Park Service owns the ”knob” property as part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. In years past, the Lions Club was given full and open access to the property and has placed these two symbols of light every year without any issues. The property was respected and never damaged by the Lions. Last year however, the Lion’s were told they would need a permit to put up the star. They were told they would need to apply again in the spring to put up the cross. The Lions Club applied for the permit and have been denied the access to put up the cross. This permit was denied by John J. Donahue, Superintendent of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA). The Lions were given no reason to have this permit denied, and were told that if they applied above Mr. Donahue that it would be likely the Star too would not be allowed to be put up in December.

This is an offense to our community and it's traditions. While the author of this petition is aware of the separation of church and state issues and recognizes that these are Christian symbols being placed on Federal land, the author is stating that no group who wishes to place their symbol should be denied this right. 

The author also recognizes that the decision may be due to "reasonable observer" and past rulings based on the Establishment Clause. This sort of issue (displaying a religious symbol in a federal/ public space) is a difficult balance at best because the government has to be careful not to appear to promote one religion but is also tasked to also not prohibit citizens from expressing their faith publicly, or for that matter to infringe up on a historic annual event. This should be given a Historic Preservation status of sorts. This was happening well before the Park Service owned this land and should be grandfathered in. For more information on this topic check out this article by the ACLU: Religious displays: what you should know: https://aclum.org/sites/all/files/holiday/religious_displays_december_2013.pdf

Our national constitution allows for freedom of religion and freedom of expression.  It is the National Parks Services duty to preserve the local area's traditions and history. This not only infringes on our traditions and history but also infringes up on our rights as a tax payers, who pay for the DWGNRA. In the NPS’s own words their mission states “To achieve this mission, the National Park Service adheres to the following guiding principles:  Excellent Service: Providing the best possible service to park visitors and partners. Productive Partnerships: Collaborating with federal, state, tribal, and local governments, private organizations, and businesses to work toward common goals. Citizen Involvement: Providing opportunities for citizens to participate in the decisions and actions of the National Park Service.”

In this case, the NPS is not meeting their mission and once again politicians and bureaucrats who have no history in the local area are making decisions which affect many people’s traditions and happiness. We ask that you sign this petition and call and write local authorities to make your voice heard on this issue.  

Please contact Mr. Donahue at the phone number email and address above. Please contact the Michael T. Reynolds, Acting Director, National Park Service. Please contact the local mayor of Milford Sean Strub, the county commissioners: Matthew M. Osterberg Chairman, Rich Caridi, Vice Chairman, Steve Guccini Commissioner, and your local house representatives and senators if you wish to see this tradition continued. If you disagree that this tradition should be continued you have the right to express that to the relevant authorities as well, but that is not the point of this particular petition.

 Congressman Marino: http://congressional-district.insidegov.com/l/164848/18337

County Commissioners: https://www.pikepa.org/commissioners.html

 Milford Borough http://www.milfordboro.org/contact-us/

Michael T Reynolds: https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/director.htm

Delaware Water Gap Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DelWaterGapNPS

 Articles about the Sybmols: http://blogs.thepoconos.com/i-like-pike/2011/12/01/milfords-star-on-the-knob-shines-again/

Blog: http://barbarafiore-lifewithpeter.blogspot.com/2011/06/milford-pa.html

Milford Now: http://milfordnow.com/the-milford-lions-club-raises-the-star/

 New Information: The first star was erected in 1930 by Marcel Van Lierde. The electric for the star was provided by the Waterwheel at Metz's Icehouse on the Sawmill. Currently, the power for these symbols is paid for by the Lions through private means and is no expense to the NPS. Thanks to those who are sharing history with me.



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