Ohio’s national parks could get more than $100 million in additional funding for much needed renovations if a proposal introduced in the U.S. Senate in June is eventually signed into law by President Donald Trump.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s Restore Our Parks Act would alleviate a $12-billion backlog of deferred maintenance at areas overseen by the National Park Service. The billions in repair jobs that have been put off because of a lack of funding includes parks in every state, according to a listing of deferred maintenance.
It makes sense to try to address park maintenance now before it worsens and in turn costs taxpayers even more to repair, Portman told this news organization.
“I have had a long time concern about this,” Portman said. “I just never thought it was fair to let the infrastructure around these parks deteriorate like they are.”
The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park at 16 S. Williams St., would get more than $1.8 million if the proposal becomes law, according to Portman’s office. Repairs to the building that houses The Wright Cycle Co. is one of the “highest priorities” on the National Park Service’s list of deferred maintenance, meaning it would almost certainly get funding if some form of the bill becomes law, Portman.
As introduced, the bill would cover the park’s entire deferred maintenance needs as of September 2017, according to documents from the National Park Service.
“Just in general terms, deferred maintenance covers HVAC systems, sidewalk repairs, roofing repairs,” said Kendell Thompson, new superintendent for Dayton’s historical park. “It’s stuff that just needs to be done as a part of a regular maintenance program. As projects are prioritized some will get funded and some will not.”
The William Howard Taft National Historic site in Cincinnati would get more than $2 million from Portman’s bill and the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe, 75 minutes from Dayton, would receive more than $2.1 million from Portman’s bill.
Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island would receive the most funding at $47.7 million. The 352-foot monument was established to commemorate the people who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.
Ohio Cuyahoga Valley National Park would receive more than $45.8 million, the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument could get $1.9 million, the First Ladies National Historic Site may get $1.1 million and the James A. Garfield National Historic Site may be given nearly $719,000, according to Portman’s office.
Though there are still several legislative hoops for Portman’s parks bill to jump through, but the senator said he’s “hopeful” it’ll become law as it currently has the support of Democrats, Republicans and the White House.
“I’m really interested in getting funding for those kind of purposes,” Portman said. “With the exception to the Department of Defense, the parks have the most assets and a lot of them are falling apart.”
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