Friday, July 01, 2011
Letter: All-embracing 'park' -- best gift for the 450th
By ED SLAVIN
Created 05/27/2011 - 12:00am
Editor: Ken Burns' 2009 PBS documentary quoted Wallace Stegner, who called America's National Parks our "Best Idea."
For our 450th birthday, let's ask for an "emerald necklace of parks" -- St. Augustine National Historical Park, Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway, with a National Civil Rights Museum and Museum of Indigenous Native Americans. www.staugustgreen.com
The land is already ours -- federal, state and water management district land. Let's preserve and protect more than 130,000 acres of land, in one national park and seashore, connected with trails and battery-powered trolleys.
Take the Castillo de San Marcos, Fort Matanzas, add water (county beaches, including the beach where civil rights wade-ins and arrests occurred). Add state parks, forests and water management district land in two counties and what do you have? St. Augustine National Historical Park and Seashore, which will capture the imagination, reconnect us with our history and nature, preserve wetlands and prevent erosion, while preserving endangered and threatened species.
A 2003 National Trust for Historic Preservation study found environmental and historic tourists spent more money -- good to grow our tourist-driven economy.
Our 450th birthday is a "teachable moment": the National Park Service will share and interpret St. Augustine's 11,000 years of history, including indigenous (Native-American), African-American, Spanish, French, Minorcan, Greek, Cuban, Haitian, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, British, American, Civil War, military, nautical, Flagler-era and Civil Rights history and Northeast Florida's contribution to American history.
Finally, we need an Interstate-95 interchange for West Augustine and West King Street -- call it the "here we right a wrong" interchange, remedying 1960s discrimination.
We love St. Augustine. We're blessed to live here.
Let's preserve and protect St. Augustine forever. Your grandchildren (and their grandchildren) will say "thank you" for the 450th birthday present -- parks, preservation and teaching peaceful ways, while fully realizing this economic opportunity for our collective good.