Last December, we came close to having legislation passed to create the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. The legislation had been introduced in November, co-sponsored by all members of the bi-state delegation representing the Blackstone Valley in Congress. It was included in a large omnibus bill that had to be passed by the House and Senate to keep the Federal government in business for the remainder of the fiscal year. The Senate approved it, but it did not make it into the final bill, negotiated by a conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate versions.
We know for a fact that Senator Reed's office did everything it could, with strong support of the other House and Senate members of the delegation, to get the legislation passed, and thus put the start-up of a new park on the fast track. We also know that the National Park Service was in support, as was Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar. At the same time, we always knew this was truly a long shot, given that this type of legislation usually goes through committee hearings first.
The good news is that the legislation is ready to go through this more usual process. The request for a Senate committee hearing has been submitted, and the House will no doubt follow suit shortly. Support from our delegation is as strong as ever, for which we are grateful. And just the other day, during a national conference call, the Secretary reiterated his strong support for the park, and his hope that progress will be made this year.
If your organization would like to host a presentation about the national park proposal, speakers and information material are available. Please call us at 762-0250 with your request.