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Grounding Utilities

Description: Established in 1989, the Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg (the Friends) is a 501(C)(3) non-profit whose mission it is to support, protect, and enhance the resources associated with the National Parks at Gettysburg, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Eisenhower Farm. The organization of 24,000 members, nationwide, has traditionally raised money for land and artifact acquisition, landscape rehabilitation, monument restoration, and interpretive and education programs. They also assist Gettysburg National Military Park through 3,000 volunteer hours per year. In recent years, the average annual value of their donated cash, goods and services is estimated to be around $1 million.

Over time, as the Friends continued to grow in strength and capabilities, park staff was increasingly unable to keep up with the pace of the Friend's fundraising and donations. To alleviate this concern, as well as to grow the Friends in a new direction, the Friends and the park decided to experiment with the concept of the Friends providing project management services to the park.

An opportunity to utilize these services presented itself in 2001, when the Friends proposed the removal and burial of existing public utility lines along a 3,800 foot corridor at the park and the removal of all existing poles not required for other existing utility services. Overhead utility lines were an intrusion to the historic first days' battle landscape as it appeared in 1863, and posed an obstruction to the visual interpretation of the battlefield.

The Friends raised the funds required for the project, $171,256, and directly managed the project. They coordinated the necessary work with the utility companies, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the railroad; managed the archeological survey; prepared the construction documents; bid the job; selected the contractor; and supervised the actual contract. Park staff was responsible for advising and reviewing the Friends' project management, as appropriate, ultimately saving park staff considerable time. Other examples of Friends project management for the park include a project to replace rare books in the park archives.

Geographic area covered: Gettysburg National Military Park, located in Adams County, Pennsylvania, is comprised of 5,990 acres.

List of partners and relationships: The Gettysburg National Military Park, Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, GPU Energy, Sprint United Telephone and GS Communications.

Accomplishments to date: The underground utility project has been completed, which has resulted in a vastly improved historic landscape viewshed for park visitors.

Key success factors: The success of the project spawned an additional project in 2002-2003 when the Friends oversaw the repairs to the park's Pennsylvania Monument. The state of Pennsylvania appropriated $1 million for much-needed structural repairs to the monument. The state of Pennsylvania transferred the funds to the Friends through a grant process, and the Friends provided cradle-to-grave project management for the repairs to the monument.

Frustrations: Some park staff had to learn to "let go" of their normal authority and/or responsibility.

Most important lessons learned to date: A well-written project agreement is crucial, so that both park staff and Friends staff understand who is responsible for what, and the lines of communication, coordination, and project approval.

What would you do differently next time: We would provide for a contingency fund in the project agreement.

Suggested resource materials(related to the case study): For more general info regarding the Friends, see www.friendsofgettysburg.org

For more information:

Name: John Latschar
Affiliation: Superintendent, Gettysburg National Military Park
Phone/Fax: 717-334-8170
Email/website: John_Latschar@nps.gov

Name: Vickey Monrean
Affiliation: Executive Director, Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg
Phone/Fax: 717-334-0772
Email/website: vmonrean@friendsofgettysburg.org

Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)

Fundraising _X_; Capital Improvement _X_; Facility Management __; Design _X_; Program Delivery __; Visitor Services __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration _X_; Cultural Resources _X_; Education/Interpretation __; Arts __; Information Services __; Transportation __; Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning _X_; Tourism __; Community Relations __;

Other ____________________________

Prepared by: John Latschar Date posted: 12/23/03
Phone: 717-334-8170

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