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Gillibrand, Katko pledge to continue National Park push for Safe Haven museum, Fort Ontario

Payne R Horning
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) have introduced legislation that would study whether the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Museum and adjacent Fort Ontario should be made a National Park.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) toured the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Museum in Oswego last week, trying to renew interest and support for making the historic site part of the National Park Service (NPS).

Katko says the multi-year process to establish Fort Ontario and the adjacent Safe Have museum as a National Park is one step closer to becoming a reality. The federal government is currently conducting a reconnaissance survey. Jeremy Barnum with NPS says it's an analysis of a site to determine if the area has the resources to merit further consideration through a special resources study.

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo
WRVO News File Photo

The House of Representatives recently passed bill that would commission the study, but it failed in the Senate. Gillibrand says she plans to renew the effort by attaching it to the budget bill that lawmakers will consider this fall.

"We tried to do that at the end of last session and there was one objection by one senator who didn't want to do any more national park work in the end of session bill," Gillibrand said. "So, it was a shame because I don't think there were any substantive concerns."

If approved by both chambers and signed by President Donald Trump, the study could proceed. Barnum says it would initiate an in-depth study to determine if a site would meet the four criteria for new parklands; national significance, suitability, feasibility, and need for NPS management.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.