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 from the beginning of April through the end of October. The purpose of this project is to provide a means of managed public use for the house and also to provide revenue for its ongoing maintenance and preservation.
The NPS has begun preparation of an Environmental Assessment and Assessment of Effect (EA/AOE) to assess alternatives and potential impacts of the proposal. An initial step in the planning process is public involvement. As this time, the public is invited to raise any initial ideas, issues or concerns they may have related to the proposed lease. These ideas, issues or concerns then will be addressed during the planning process and in the EA/DOE. Initial public comments on the scope of the EA/AOE are welcome until June 30, 2012.
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. senator, and U.S. secretary of state. 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, 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 from the beginning of April through the end of October. A tent could be erected on the east lawn. During events, the relevant areas will be closed to use by the general public. The grounds will remain open to the general public on all non-event days.
No modifications by the lessee to the interior of the building will be required or permitted.
Exterior work proposed includes:
construction of a gravel parking lot within former walled garden west of the greenhouse;
addition of a new 10' wide access lane added between Library Lane and the proposed parking lot;
repair and rehabilitation of the reflecting pond;
replacement of the historic iron fence around the meadow north of the main house; and
rehabilitation of the stone path to the greenhouse.
ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW The EA/AOE will be 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 will evaluate the potential environmental impacts on natural resources, cultural resources, visitor use and experience, and socio-economic resources. Mitigation measures will be identified to avoid or reduce any adverse impacts from this project. An EA/AOE-which will reflect public scoping comments and include details about proposed alternatives and impacts for the project-will be available for public review in July 2012.
HOW YOU CAN COMMENT This is the first of two periods for commenting on this proposal. (The second opportunity, beginning in July 2012, will cover the fully detailed proposal). In this initial period, please consider:
What issues (environmental, social, etc.) should NPS consider as the proposal is developed?
How might this project affect the ways in which visitors use the park?
How might this project affect park neighbors?
Any other ideas or concerns you may want to share
Please use the following website to record your comments: parkplanning.nps.gov
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.