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National Park Service Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Leasing of Philander Chase Knox House and Construction of Gravel Parking Lot on Estate Grounds

Philander Chase Knox Estate
Philander Chase Knox Estate
NPS/VAFO

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Date: September 25, 2012
Contact: Deirdre Gibson, 610-783-1047

At Valley Forge National Historical Park the National Park Service (NPS) intends to lease the Philander Chase Knox main house and immediate grounds for private use. The lessee will use the space for private events at multiple times throughout the year. The purpose of this project is to use NPS leasing authority to ensure preservation of a historic structure and certain associated grounds through enabling an appropriate and compatible use, and to allow the community to have responsible and managed access to a historic structure.

The NPS took public comment in June and prepared an Environmental Assessment and Assessment of Effect (EA/AOE) to assess alternatives and potential impacts of the proposal. The NPS presents two alternatives for this project. The public is invited to comment on the alternatives and their impacts related to the proposed lease. Public comments on the EA/AOE are welcome until October 25, 2012.

BACKGROUND
The Philander Chase Knox Estate is located on Library Lane near Yellow Springs Road, in the southwest corner of Valley Forge National Historical Park. The earliest portion of the main house was built in the late 1700s and was greatly expanded over the next century. The estate reached its present form in the early 20th century as the summer home of Philander Chase Knox, former U.S. Attorney General, U.S. Secretary of State, and U.S. Senator. Part of the house is used as the park's library, available to the public by appointment. Most of the house is empty. The NPS has determined that there is no other feasible park operational or visitor-services use for the house. Additionally, adequate federal funds are not available for the estate's preservation or maintenance. The park's General Management Plan (2007) targets the property for adaptive reuse. Using the authority granted by 36CFR Part 18, Section 18.1, and the property may be made available for leasing to a tenant that could occupy the space and also preserve it according to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Historic Preservation.

PROPOSED LEASE
The lease will enable the lessee to use certain portions of the main house and certain immediately adjacent grounds for private events. A tent could be erected on the east lawn in the warmer months, and events could take place indoors throughout the year. During events, the relevant areas would be closed to use by the general public. The grounds would remain open to the general public on all non-event days.

No permanent modifications by the lessee to the interior of the building would be required or permitted.

Exterior work proposed includes:

  • construction of an 18,000 square foot gravel parking lot within the former walled garden west of the greenhouse;
  • addition of a new 10' wide access lane added between Library Lane and the proposed parking lot; and
  • rehabilitation of the stone path to the greenhouse.

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
This EA/AOE is prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality, the NPS Management Policies (2001), the NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis, and Decision-Making, the NPS Director's Order 28:Cultural Resource Management,and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended.This assessment evaluates the potential environmental impacts on natural resources, cultural resources, and visitor use and experience. Mitigation measures are identified to avoid or reduce any adverse impacts from this project. This EA/AOE-which reflects public scoping comments and includes details about proposed alternatives and impacts for the project-is available for public review until October 25, 2012.

HOW YOU CAN COMMENT
This is the second of two periods for commenting on this proposal. (The first opportunity was available in June 2012).

Please use the following website to record your comments:http://parkplanning.nps.gov/PCK. If you prefer to submit a hard copy of your comments, please mail them to Superintendent, Valley Forge NHP, 1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania 19406.

If you have questions, please call 610-783-1047.

Did You Know?

visitors kayak on the schuylkill river

In 2008, readers of The Times Herald named Valley Forge National Historical Park "Best Family Attraction" for the newspaper's annual Best of Montgomery County reader's poll!