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Battlefield receiving funds for land buy

April 19, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

Antietam National Battlefield's fiscal 1999 budget includes $4.5 million in federal funds for restoration and land acquisition, according to Superintendent John W. Howard.

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The battlefield will use $2.6 million to restore the Otto, Sherrick and Mumma farms, owned by the park.

For the first time in eight years, Congress also gave Antietam money for land acquisition: $1.9 million.

Howard said he is negotiating sales with two property owners. He said the money will be used to buy land or easements within the battlefield's boundaries. "This is not an expansion," he said.

Restoration of the three farms will be done in phases. Work on the Otto and Sherrick farms is expected to begin next month.

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As part of a requirement in the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998, all park budgets are available for public review.

The total budget for Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is $6.9 million. The operating budget for Monocacy National Battlefield, for which Howard also is responsible, is $413,000. Its budget includes $149,000 for the park's preservation, $195,000 for services and programs, $29,000 for general maintenance and $40,000 for general administration.

Congress also appropriated $3.5 million in land acquisition funds for Monocacy National Battlefield.

Antietam National Battlefield's budget includes $1.9 for general operations, of which $160,000 will be fee revenue. About $1.1 million will be used for preservation and protection of the park's historic, cultural and natural resources.

"Preservation of the battlefield is always our No. 1 priority," said Howard. "It's why Congress put us here in the first place."

The operating budget for the fiscal year that began in October includes $515,000 for services and programs, $135,000 for general maintenance and $143,000 for general administration.

Fee revenue is generated through admission charges. The park gets back 80 percent of admission charges, and the remaining 20 percent is used for parks that don't charge admission.

About $57,000 of that money will be used to build and repair the battlefield's wood rail fences, repair and restore 10 pieces of artillery and complete a study of the National Cemetery.

Another $80,500 of the fee revenue will be used to refurbish the battlefield's museum. It will be painted and the lighting upgraded. New carpet was installed a few weeks ago.

The museum's artifacts are in worn 30-year-old cases that will be replaced, Howard said. New exhibits are also planned, including a display for the James Hope paintings, a three-paneled mural of the battlefield.

Four sets of limbers and caissons for an artillery exhibit near Dunker Church are to arrive within a month, Howard said.

The remaining $23,000 in fee revenue will be used to restore and paint the walls and fence of the National Cemetery and to replace two wells.

Congress annually appropriates taxpayer funds for the operation of its national parks, but this is the first year budgets for the parks have been made available.

Howard said Antietam's operating budget increased about $200,000 this year.

"We're doing very well. The current budget is enabling us to do a lot of good things for the park," he said.

Howard also is responsible for the operation of Monocacy National Battlefield in Frederick County. Its budget includes $149,000 for the park's preservation, $195,000 for services and programs, $29,000 for general maintenance and $40,000 for general administration.

Congress appropriated $3.5 million in land acquisition funds for Monocacy National Battlefield.

For a copy of the park budget and performance plan, write to Monocacy National Battlefield or Antietam National Battlefield at P.O. Box 158, Sharpsburg, MD 21782.

For Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, write to P.O. Box 65, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.

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