May 20, 2010

Gillibrand Pushes To Make Newtown Battlefield A National Park

National Park Distinction Would Help Preserve Historic Landmark, Provide More Funds, Stimulate Economic Development in Chemung County

Washington, DC –U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation today to begin the process of making the Newtown Battlefield National Historic Landmark a National Park. As the site of one of the most significant victories for the Continental Army during the American Revolution, the Newton Battlefield is an important historic and cultural landmark for the people of Chemung County and New York State.

“Making Newtown Battlefield a National Park is an integral part of Chemung County’s economic development, bringing jobs and businesses to the region,” said Senator Gillibrand. “New York is known for her history, and this designation would attract more tourism for the area and increase federal funding for preservation.”

“The Chemung County Historical Society is very pleased that Senator Gillibrand has taken the initial step to commission a feasibility study for the possible inclusion of Newtown Battlefield into the National Parks System,” said Rusty Smith from the Chemung County Historical Society. “We understand this is the beginning of a long process that will take several years to complete. The Historical Society looks forward to being able to assist the survey in any way that might be helpful.”

The Newtown Battlefield National Historic Landmark, spanning across the towns of Elmira, Chemung, and Ashland, is the site of The Battle of Newtown, which was the most significant military engagement of the Sullivan Campaign of 1779 and a major victory for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. 

In 1972, the Federal Government recognized the Newtown Battlefield as a significant historic resource by naming the site a National Historic Landmark. In 2007, the National Park Service confirmed the site’s historic importance through their Report on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites, in which they categorized Newton Battlefield as a Class A site, finding, also, that the battlefield is largely unprotected by other public historic preservation agencies or nonprofit organizations. 

This legislation would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study to evaluate the significance of the Newtown Battlefield and the impact of making it a National Park. This study, an important first step in the process of making Newtown Battlefield a National Park, will also examine the logistics of operating the site, and its potential impact on the general public.

Making the Newtown Battlefield a National Park has the potential to bring significant resources to Chemung County and the surrounding area, preserving the historic battlefield, stimulating economic development, and increasing tourism in the region.