The Obama administration has endorsed a plan backed by several Pennsylvania lawmakers to expand Gettysburg National Military Park.
The Department of Interior, which oversees national parks, said Wednesday it would back the plan despite concern from some lawmakers that the land transfer would set a bad precedent for transfers of park land in other parts of the country.
It’s a small victory for lawmakers including Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Scott Perry, R-York, who have been pressing for the federal government to acquire the land. The private Gettysburg Foundation already has agreed to buy the property from the borough for $700,000 and donate it to the National Park Service.
The transfer would include 45 acres of land at the southern end of the Civil War battlefield where cavalry skirmishes occurred 150 years ago. It also includes the 1858 Lincoln Train Station, which served as a hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg. President Abraham Lincoln passed through the station on his way to deliver the Gettysburg Address.
"The inclusion of both of these historic properties as part of the National Military Park will help visitors to gain a better understanding of the pivotal decisions that were made during the Battle of Gettysburg,” Mr. Toomey said in a written statement.
Mr. Casey said the Department of Interior’s endorsement is a “significant boost” to the legislative effort.
Lawmakers are hoping for a resolution by November, the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.