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October 02, 2013

Shutdown Theater Goes Grand Guignol: Completely Self-Sustaining Tourist Attraction Ordered Shut Down for First Time In History

By order of the King.

The Colonial Williamsburg-type historical recreation never closed through all the shutdowns of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Because, of course, it was self-sufficient, as it charges money for entry, and keeps (shock!) a balanced budget.

The difference this time?

Obama, Reid, and Pelosi. And the Unified Caucus of the Leftist Media.

The National Park Service has ordered the closure of a Virginia park that sits on federal land, even though the government provides no resources for its maintenance or operation.

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm announced on Wednesday that NPS has ordered it to suspend operations until Congress agrees to a deal to fund the federal government.

According to Anna Eberly, managing director of the farm, NPS sent law enforcement agents to the park on Tuesday evening to remove staff and volunteers from the property.

“You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don’t have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money,” she said.

The park withstood prior government shutdowns, noting in a news release that the farm will be closed to the public for the first time in 40 years.

“In previous budget dramas, the Farm has always been exempted since the NPS provides no staff or resources to operate the Farm,” Eberly explained in an emailed statement.

“In all the years I have worked with the National Park Service … I have never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group representing the NPS,” Eberly said.

...

She called the decision “utter crap.”

“We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm,” Eberly explained.

Gabe actually had this very early, but couldn't get to it. I'm getting to it late.

Below, Eberly's full letter.


Hi Folks,

For the first time in 40 years, the National Park Service (NPS) has finally succeeded in closing the Farm down to the public. In previous budget dramas, the Farm has always been exempted since the NPS provides no staff or resources to operate the Farm. We weren't even informed of this until mid-day Monday in spite of their managers having our email addresses and cell numbers.


The first casualty of this arbitrary action was the McLean Chamber of Commerce who were having a large annual event at the Pavilions on Tuesday evening. The NPS sent the Park Police over to remove the Pavilions staff and Chamber volunteers from the property while they were trying to set up for their event. Fortunately, the Chamber has friends and they were able to move to another location and salvage what was left of their party. You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don't have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money.


Every appeal our Board of Directors made to the NPS administration was denied. They feel that as "landlord" they have absolute control of their property. The NPS is quoted today in the Washington Post saying "The monuments are closed because, during a shutdown, there is no money to pay the rangers who staff them", said the Park Service spokeswoman, Carol Bradley Johnson." And the agency is worried about the security of the memorials and the safety of visitors at unstaffed sites. "It is not something we enjoy doing," Johnson said. "But it's important that we protect and preserve our monuments for future generations."


What utter crap. We have operated the Farm successfully for 32 years after the NPS cut the Farm from its budget in 1980 and are fully staffed and prepared to open today. But there are barricades at the Pavilions and entrance to the Farm. And if you were to park on the grass and visit on your own, you run the risk of being arrested. Of course, that will cost the NPS staff salaries to police the Farm against intruders while leaving it open will cost them nothing.


You would think that with all the funding problems the NPS has, they would at least acknowledge the Farm's successful partnership in operating their park site - just to encourage other groups to support them in similar ways. But you would be wrong. If the George Washington Memorial Parkway publishes posters or site brochures, the Farm is never included but other partnership parks are. Recently we were requested to attend a NPS regional park partners meeting and the NPS had put together a slide show of all of their parks and the Farm was once again - not included. We don't see how that benefits the mission of the National Park Service if it really is to preserve and protect. Or is it really just about control?


One reason that citizens worked so hard to save the Farm in 1980-81was partly because the NPS tried so hard to get rid of it. But what really saved the Farm were the individuals and families with children and who had visited, participated in programs and volunteered. Even when the Farm was operated by the NPS (1972-1981), it had a very independent and entrepreneurial spirit which attracted like minded people. After all these years, we still believe that if we are willing to work hard enough, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. And now there are a lot more of us who feel that way than in 1980.


What does all this mean to you if you are a volunteer, visitor, program participant or customer?


Until further notice, the 18th century Farm is closed as well as the GateHouse Shop and Book Shop and Pavilions of Turkey Run. If you are volunteer coming to take care of plants and animals you are allowed on the property. Otherwise, you may be denied access.


Needless to say, we are working to get this decision reversed and have been in close touch with both Congressman Wolf and Congressman Moran who have so far been unsuccessful. Being open is very important to us both to faithfully serve our visitors and volunteers and to earn income to operate the Farm.


In all the years I have worked with the National Park Service, first as a volunteer for 6 years in Richmond where I grew up, then as an NPS employee at the for 8 very long years and now enjoyably as managing director for the last 32 years - I have never worked with a more arrogant, arbitrary and vindictive group representing the NPS.


I deeply apologize that we have to disappoint you today by being closed but know that we are working while the National Park Service is not - as usual.


Thank you so very much for all of the support that you give to us.


Anna Eberly
Managing Director

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