• Get away to Gateway, where you can camp and stay healthy with heart-smart activities. Photo by Sebastiano Privitera; used by permission.

    Gateway

    National Recreation Area NY,NJ

Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee

 
The Bachelor Officers Quarters reveals both the potential of Fort Hancock's historic buildings and the extent of work that needs to be done.

The Bachelor Officers Quarters reveals both the potential of Fort Hancock's historic buildings and the extent of work that needs to be done.

NPS PHOTO

What is Fort Hancock?

The Fort Hancock Historic District stands at the northern end of Gateway's Sandy Hook Unit. From the Spanish-American War through World War II and into the Cold War, the United States Army used Fort Hancock at Sandy Hook to defend New York Harbor from America's enemies. Today, dozens of historically significant buildings are themselves threatened by time and weather.

The enabling legislation that established Gateway as a national park explicitly charges the park with preserving the historic structures at Fort Hancock with their historic character.

In the Sandy Hook and Staten Island Units, the Secretary [of the Interior] shall inventory and evaluate all sites and structures having present and potential historical, cultural, or architectural significance and shall provide for appropriate programs for the preservation, restoration, interpretation, and utilization of them.

The National Park Service has rigorous rehabilitation standards for historic structures, which require "minimal change to the defining characteristics of the building and its site and environment."

Watch our podcast on Fort Hancock to see both the problems and possibilities of the buildings as they are today.

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Fort Hancock Historic District.

Fort Hancock Historic District.

NPS PHOTO

What is the Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee?

In September 2012, the Department of the Interior announced the formation of the Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee. Members were chosen from applications reviewed by the Secretary of the Interior in accordance with the FACA Act of 1972. As stated in the Advisory Committee Charter, the purpose of this group is to provide advice "on the development of a reuse plan and on matters relating to future uses of the Fort Hancock Historic District of Gateway National Recreation Area."

The Committee beings together experts from several disciplines and occupations to study the historic district and make recommendations for its possible reuse. Members were drawn from the local community as well as the scientific, education, recreational, business, real estate and hospitality communities. The Committee will meet four to six times a year. Meetings are open to the public, with specific times scheduled for public comment. Written comments may be submitted to the Designated Federal Officer at Gateway Headquarters.

In her opening comments at the first meeting on January 23, 2013, Superintendent Linda Canzanelli charged the Committee to "look at the full range of possibilities for Fort Hancock," including leaving the buildings boarded up as they are now. She also stated that one of the few options that the NPS cannot live with includes any compromise to "the peace and serenity of Sandy Hook itself. Fort Hancock can flourish without disturbing Sandy Hook's beaches and wildlife habitats."

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Building 119 at Fort Monroe.

Building 119 at Fort Monroe.

NPS PHOTO

How have other national parks preserved groups of historic structures?

National parks across the nation with large groups of historic buildings have used the NPS Leasing Program to encourage public-private partnerships, which in turn save historic structures through creative reuse. include Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which encompasses both the Presidio and Cavallo Point, Fort Monroe National Monument and Lowell National Historical Park. These PowerPoint presentations detail the successful experiences at Lowell and the Presidio.

However, national parks have no monopoly on good ideas. This is why the FACA process is open to public observation and comment. As Superintendent Canzanelli stated in her opening remarks, "Ongoing dialogue with the local community is essential. We may not always agree on the details, but we need to at least agree on the goals."

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Fort Hancock

Fort Hancock

NPS photo

Seeking new uses for historic buildings at Fort Hancock.

The National Park Service, in cooperation with the Fort Hancock 21st Century Federal Advisory Committee is seeking interested parties to redevelop historic structures in the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. This Request for Expressions of Interest represents a business opportunity for transformation of historic buildings. Submissions are due by 5 pm on December 16, 2013. There will be a site visit on Thursday, November 6, 2013.

 

Did You Know?

Fort Wadsworth

Fort Wadsworth, located on Staten Island at the Narrows (next to the Verrazano Bridge), is one of the oldest military sites in the nation. This site has controlled the entrance to New York Harbor since the Washington administration.