Published in The Coast Stat on March 9, 2006 on page 9
Wall Township recently was honored when First Lady Laura Bush designated it among the nation’s newest Preserve America communities. It is the first community in the state of New Jersey to be so designated.
“Preserve America communities demonstrate that they are committed to preserving America’s heritage while ensuring a future filled with opportunities for learning and enjoyment,” Mrs. Bush said in a press release. “This community-designation program, combined with the Preserve America Presidential Awards and federal support, provides strong incentives for continued preservation of our cultural and natural heritage resources.
“I commend Wall Township and its leaders for their commitment to preserving an important part of our nation’s historic past for visitors, neighbors and, most importantly, for children.”
Mayor Mary Burne and the Wall Township Committee received a letter of designation signed by Mrs. Bush, first lady of the United States and honorary chair of Preserve America, that Wall Township is now a PreserveAmerica Community.
The Preserve America initiative is a new White House effort to encourage and support community efforts for the preservation and enjoyment of America’s cultural and natural heritage. The goals of the initiative include a greater shared knowledge about the nation’s past; strengthened regional identities and local pride; increased local participation in preserving the country’s cultural and natural heritage assets; and support for the economic vitality of our communities.
“This designation and honor goes to the Wall Township Committee members past and present who have supported preservation efforts in the town over the last 30 years,” said Fred Carl, township historian. “By fostering local volunteer preservation efforts, Wall Township has saved the Allgor-Barkalow Homestead,the Blansingburg Schoolhouse Museum, the Marconi Memorial Tower and now Camp Evans. Not all towns save their history.”
De Hearn, president of the Old Wall Historical Society, said the recognition is a big honor, especially since Wall is the only town in New Jersey with such a designation. She and Wilma Morrissey, a board of adjustment member and chair of the Wall Township Environmental Advisory Committee, helped put together the proposal for the award. But Ms. Hearn said Mr. Carl was the true mastermind behind the effort.
“He really spearheaded this,”she said. “So we give him a lot of the credit for this.”
Ms. Hearn said they had to prove not only that Wall Township organizations had preserved historical sites, but that those sites actually attract visitors. She said the numerous events at each site, like teaching students at the Blansingburg Schoolhouse and the InfoAge Science/History Learning Center, helped win the township this award.
Communities designated through the program receive national recognition for their efforts. Other benefits include appropriate use of the PreserveAmerica logo on signs and promotional materials; notification to media, state tourism offices and visitor bureaus; and listing in a web-based directory to showcase preservation efforts and highlight heritage tourism destinations.
Wall Township is now also eligible to apply for grants under the Preserve America Grants Program administered by the Departmentof the Interior. These matching-fund grants of $20,000 to$150,000 go on a competitive basis to heritage tourism initiatives, promotion and marketing programs, and interpretive/educational initiatives involving historic resources.
“You are pioneers in this initiative, which shows just how proud the people of Wall Township are of their city, state and their place in our nation’s history,” Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton said, “Each community’s unique and diverse stories are part of the larger chapter of American heritage, culture and values. It is by visiting and experiencing these special places that we have an opportunity to touch the past, and can best understand how the past touches us.”
The Department of the Interior partners with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to administer the Preserve America Community program on behalf of the Office of the First Lady. For more information and updates on the initiative, visit www.preserveamerica.gov.
Page created December 31, 2006