MIDDLE SMITHFIELD, Pa. — The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area has released a study of what it proposes to do for the nearly 500 buildings, 300 of which are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, within of the park.
History Publication of the building study also opened a 30-day written comment period report that ends August 10. There will also be a virtual public meeting as well as two informal information sessions.
The public meeting will be held at 7 p.m., July 28, by logging on to https://bit.ly/DEWAHB21.
During the session, park staff will explain the Historic Buildings Strategy and answer questions. The virtual meeting will be recorded, captioned and posted online at the link above.
Informal meetings with Superintendent Sula Jacobs and members of the park’s planning, maintenance and cultural resource management teams will be held August 3 at the Kittatinny Point Picnic Lodge and August 5 at the Kittatinny Point Picnic Lodge. Milford Beach picnic. Both meetings will take place from 6-8 p.m. and beach access fees will be waived for meeting attendees.
Kathleen Sandt, spokeswoman for the recreation area, said the overall “strategy” does not focus on specific buildings, but on categories of structures.
Among the 286 buildings that meet the criteria for inclusion in the strategy, several are found in clusters, such as on an old farm where there is a house, outbuildings and elements of the agricultural landscape such as fields and fences. There are 97 such “historic properties”.
These properties have been prioritized into one of four categories based on review and analysis of historical significance, interpretive value to park visitors, physical condition and the potential for future use.
“The quantity and condition of buildings in the park exceed our ability to fund and maintain them,” said John Lambert, Chief Facilities Officer.
The park’s most recently published maintenance backlog was calculated in 2018 at $147 million, including $55 million for buildings alone.
The draft strategy establishes priorities for the long-term management, preservation, and upkeep of the park’s historic buildings and becomes a guide when park management makes decisions about funding and preservation efforts.
To be included in the strategy, a property or building had to meet three criteria: it must be listed or eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places; be over 45 years old; and not be seriously damaged.
The categories described in the draft strategy are Category A, which are top priorities for preservation due to their historical significance. They are in good or fairly good condition and have great interpretative value.
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Class A properties are those currently in use and are a top priority for continued maintenance and rehabilitation projects. Currently vacant properties are excellent candidates for rehabilitation or renovation and adaptive reuse.
In Category B there are assets that are often not as historically significant, but are in good or fair condition and have high or moderate interpretative value. Currently used properties will continue to be maintained, and currently vacant properties are good candidates for rehabilitation and adaptive reuse.
Properties that have some historical significance but are in fair or poor condition and have fair or poor interpretative value were placed in Category C.
For these properties, the park would issue requests for as-is rental proposals for the properties and would not perform maintenance other than as necessary for safety and security. If the properties cannot be rented out, they would be moved to Category D.
Category D assets are in fair to poor condition and have low interpretative value and would not be preserved over the long term.
“During this final period of public review and comment, we ask the public to verify our work,” Superintendent Jacobs said. “We developed the strategy, got feedback on how to improve it, and then used it to rank each building or property.
“Have we classified the buildings in the right categories? Is there missing or incorrect information, including information that would change a building’s prioritization? Jacobs said will be included in the feedback questions.
Written comments can be submitted online by clicking on “Comment Now” or in person at contextual meetings; or by mail addressed to Superintendent Sula Jacobs, 1978 River Road, Bushkill, PA, 18324, ATTN: HBS.
Comments will not be accepted via email or social media. Hard copies of all materials can be printed on demand and mailed to those without internet access by calling 570-426-2418.