Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hypocrisy in the Hanover Sun?

We get confused by the editorial whiplash provided by the Hanover Sun. One time they editorialize about much needed development, and the next they opine against it. One editorial recently took the Conewago Township Supervisory Board to task for not dealing with the proposed "McSherrystown Bypass" in their recent plans. Meanwhile, another issue contained the "Adams County Weekly" insert, which in turn extolled the beauty of Adams County's bucolic scenery.

Even back in the days of the proposed casino it was often hard to keep up with the changes in the editorial stance of the Sun. At first they seemed to readily and wholeheartedly oppose the plan, but toward the end of the fight they certainly came across as pro-development and found little negative and much positive to write about the potential casino in the Gettysburg area.

As much as the editors of the Sun would like it to be, you can not have it both ways. At some point you must take a stand.

Take Hanover itself, for example. Are any stores missing from Eisenhower Drive and the North Hanover Mall [excepting the delayed arrival of Boscov's]? Is there really a need for even more big box stores, and fast food or franchise restaurants? Yet, for some reason the Sun heaps praise on the proposed addition of still another super mall built by Bob Monahan, right beside the Eisenhower stretch.

The Sun has nothing negative to say about the run-away development occurring in western York County, and throughout all of Adams County.

Make no mistake about it, the editors of the Sun know full well that the proposed extension of Eisenhower Drive -- the "McSherrystown Bypass", will bring additional development alongside it, including malls [even more from Bob Monahan?], and tract housing.

The Sun's policy is simple. Deal with the positives of all projects individually. Downplay the negatives. Never take a stand about rampant development.

That's why the Adams County Weekly insert was such a surprise.

Again we ask, how much development is too much? Why don't the two local newspapers, the Gettysburg Times and the Hanover Sun do some reportorial research and answer that question?

But then, words and pictures are cheap.

It would be nice to see some guts in the local papers.


We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Let’s stop bashing the Park Service over tree cutting

One begins to wonder, after the umpteenth letter to the editor is published decrying the tree removal at Gettysburg National Military Park, if the Gettysburg Times has surreptitiously taken a stance against the Battlefield Rehabilitation efforts.

Time and again people write to declare their horror at the removal of [eventually] over 500 acres of non-historic trees. Not one has mentioned the addition of over 100 acres of historically restored tree-lots, nor the large infusion of orchards that has occurred over the past several years.

On numerous occasions, people like Bobbie Platts and others have written to explain that although the Gettysburg Battlefield is a natural wonder in its own right, it exists today as a Military Park, the purpose of which is the interpretation, and understanding of the historic battle that took place on these fields, and the education of both the public and the military about what happened here, and how it happened, what decisions were made, and why, and determining the flows and outcomes of the battle based on those decisions. That is military history. That is also good historical practice.

Early on in the process the southern slope of Little Round Top was cleared of undergrowth, exposing the flank markers of the 83rd Pennsylvania. Once thought to have been a part of a continuous line of defense at the crest of Little Round Top, the clearing away of the undergrowth revealed a different story...a defense in depth, with angles of fire covering inviting gaps between regiments. Thus, the "history" that had been written now has to be re-written. So also the story of the attacks fended off on Oak Hill by Baxter's Brigade on the first day.

One need only to ride or walk down West Confederate Avenue below the Armory to understand how frustrated the Confederate artillerists were when they moved into line on Seminary Ridge late on the first day, only to face the same Union artillerist they had just forced off the first day's field, now arrayed on Cemetery Hill, and clearly visible to the Rebs. Prior to the tree clearing there simply was no real meaning for the presence of Confederate Artillery along that stretch of Park roadway. Even a vivid imagination had difficulty trying to picture it.

Several years ago the "Codori Thicket", located along Plum Run south of "Pickett's Charge", was full of non-historic trees and shrubs. Park personnel germinated seeds donated by the Friends of the National Park at Gettysburg and planted 16,000 of them on the newly cleared banks of Plum Run. The shrubs are now restored as is the Codori Thicket. Now, not only the story of the Confederate Brigades under Wilcox and Lang versus the 1st Minnesota on the second day, and the same two brigades versus the Vermont Brigade under General Stannard on the third [during Pickett's Charge] can be fully appreciated and -- finally --- properly interpreted and understood, but the Chesapeake Bay watershed got improved protection by this action.

It may take ten to fifteen years before the restored wood lots and orchards are mature enough to actually offer an understanding of where troops took cover, formed up for advances, or built lines to defend against enemy assaults, under the protection of the trees, which not only shielded them from view, but sometimes offered protection from enemy guns.

Again, this is good historical practice.

So is the insistence on maintaining the monuments and markers placed on the battlefield in many case by the survivors of the battle. Indeed, they do accurately mark the location of units throughout the battle. Their presence serves to aid the viewer in picturing the lines of battle.

The Park Service staff have thoroughly researched the condition of the battlefield prior to the battle with a great deal of professionalism and in a great deal of detail. As outlined in the GNMP website article
[] written by Dr. Latschar, the Military Engineering principles taught at West Point prior to the Civil War were used to examine the field's terrain for avenues of approach, observation points, obstacles, cover and concealment, key and decisive terrain areas, and viewsheds. Most are points used to analyze terrain for military [army] use in battle.

We cannot watch a replay of the battle on these fields. We cannot experience here the sounds, the smoke, the smells of the battle, but, with the help of the park under the brilliantly crafted management plan to restore these fields to their condition as near as possible to the day of the battle, we can use our minds' eye to understand the events that took place on these fields on those three days in July of 1863, with an accuracy that had begun to fade twenty years after the battle. Under Dr. Latschar's leadership, this program has been carried out with a dedication and precision by the Park staff that will serve as a model for preservation and restoration of historic areas far into the future. Indeed, it has already done so in new projects at Manassas and Vicksburg, using the Gettysburg Model as presented by Dr. Latschar at meeting of the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation in the fall of this year.

As for Gettysburg National Military Park, though many trees are gone, and more will go in the not too distant future, others are being planted. To the casual visitor, the open fields and vistas from places like Little Round Top [from which one can see the entire field from South Confederate Avenue all the way up to the Peace Light Memorial, around to the current Cyclorama Center, and to the top of Cemetery Hill] offer ways to see where most of the separate actions that made up the Battle of Gettysburg took place. The View from Little Round Top offers the scope of the great battle that occurred here, spreading it out over the acreage of the local farms, and into the town itself. When the current Cyclorama Center and Visitors center are gone, replaced by the new Visitors Center and Museum, that view from Little Round Top will include the restored Ziegler's Grove, which sheltered Union troops at the foot of Cemetery Hill.

Stand behind the statue rock of General G. K. Warren on Little Round Top and you can see all the field except the XIth Corps area north of town from the first day's fight, and the Culp's Hill area. This is the same reason Warren was on Little Round Top: in a brief instant he could sweep the field with his binoculars, take in what was happening all over it, and with his Military Engineer's training, make decisions for his commander, General Meade, that would affect the outcome of the battle. On his shoulders, as on those of General Buford, and General Reynolds [and later confirming decisions by Generals Hancock and Howard], are the decisions that won the Battle of Gettysburg.

Those who come here to tour and soak in the general history -- the casual tourist, will go away with perhaps a greater understanding of what occurred here -- the size and scope of the field, the enormous armies on both sides, and the unbelievably high casualty rate.

The historians, amateur and professional, will take away a greater understanding of the terrain of the field, the flow of the battle, the decisions made by the generals, colonels, and other officers, and the effects of all of these factors on the troops. Most will be inspired to further their knowledge of the battle, the war, and American History in general.

The serious military historian will come away from here with a valuable understanding of the battle, perhaps down to the regimental and company level, with an understanding of why a colonel would halt his troops on one side of a hill to dress his lines before cresting the hill, and continuing his advance toward the enemy, the obstacles and shelter points used like the orchard and wheat field the 114th Pennsylvania [Collis's Zouaves] would use for cover during the artillery duel before Longstreet's second-day assault.

Several of those historians will return to their units, possibly in the field of some conflict. Others will return to their institutions of higher learning and teach current and future military leaders how to use that knowledge to protect the troops under their command, thus ensuring more of them survive and return home, and do so victoriously.

Visit the Battlefield at almost any time of the year and you will see them, by the busload, or by the carloads, young men and women and middle aged ones, in short hair, sometimes in uniform, often in civvies. They come to see where the principles of military warfare were practiced, which ones worked, which ones did not. They will continue their military careers with that knowledge in mind. And they will be better leaders, and safer ones for it.

No one likes to see a tree taken down, except perhaps a developer. But this is, after all, Gettysburg National Military Park, not Gettysburg National Wilderness Area. There are times that it becomes necessary to remove trees…to protect, or to restore. At Gettysburg, it is to restore.

Once and for all, let us put this canard to rest, and stop knocking the NPS staff at Gettysburg for doing what they are tasked to do under charter of Congress – administer a national level historic military site, not a recreation park.

The views are simply more stunning historically than the views with the non-historic trees were appealing. And that is in keeping with the mission of the national Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park.

William G. Davis
Gettysburg, PA

This was submitted to the Gettysburg Times on December 19th by the author, a friend of ours. He is a local historian and a volunteer with the Park Watch Program.

There was no response. A follow up inquiry also met with stony silence.

Apparently the Times does not like being unmasked. Apparently the Times staff is pretty damned rude as well.


We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How long?

How long?
How long before the Cumberland Township Supervisors accept plans for a new project in the gorgeous farm fields located west of Herr's Ridge Road along US 30, between the Herr's Tavern and the Gettysburg Airport? We expect to hear this as the new location of the LeVan led effort to place a casino in the area. With a newly "appointed" pro-casino Deb Golden on the Board, can this be far off?

How long?
How long before people in Gettysburg get the point that something was rotten in the last planning commission meeting when a newly elected member, with a spouse on the Borough Council, railroaded a request for a zoning variance to allow a long vacant building to be put to good use? Said newly elected planning commission member and spouse apparently live in close proximity to the proposed location.

The applicants were the "apparently" homeless Licensed Battlefield Guides Association, who wanted to use the property for their headquarters and research library, but not as a location from which to start tours, and the Third Ward Concerned Citizens who wanted to share the property with the Guides as a location to get their start on a local Black History Museum. Both worthy causes, neither a source of noise or pollution, nor parking problems.

The building is zoned for medical office use, although requests made by the owner to the hospital for tenants resulted in no takers for the past two years. Normally, when an applicant requests a variance the board will suggest the path to achieve it, but here are two very worthy local groups willing to occupy and care for a building which has been vacant for over two years, and they were summarily dismissed by the new board member. This one makes Spring Grove smell like a daisy!

How long?
How long before the Gettysburg Times runs the Op-Ed piece submitted by local resident and Park Volunteer W. G. Davis? Davis wrote a piece that is heading toward showing up here since the Times doesn't have the gumption to run it. Apparently pointing out a bias by the local newspaper doesn't sit well.

Adams County leaders are upset with leaders of Frederick County, Maryland because the Maryland folks want Adams to build homes for the workers that will be flooding there. Old Fort Ritchie, a now-closed Army installation that sits on the Mason Dixon line and from there south along the east slope of South Mountain, is being developed. The developer, of course, like all developers, claims that he is bringing thousands of "much needed jobs" to the area, and those people will need homes. Hence the request to build and develop in Adams County.

We have asked before, what is wrong with all those lovely farms and orchards south of Emmitsburg along US 15? Why can't the needed homes be built there? Why tear up Adams County any more than it is already doing to itself? Specifially, we are talking about the areas around Sabillasville, and Monterey along PA 16 up on top of the mountain.

This is the second attempt by Maryland officials to hijack parts of Pennsylvania for what Maryland wants to build. Earlier, they wanted Pennsylvania to run a bypass around Emmitsburg to handle all the traffic ostensibly coming from commuters living in Carroll Valley who travel to and from US 15 each day. In reality, they want another route for the trucks that transit between US 15 and I-81 to the west.

Apparently no one, and we mean NO ONE is going to pave over Adams County except Adams County, and they'll do it THEIR WAY on THEIR TERMS! Frederick County: You are on notice!

What have you gone Joe Dimaggio?
We wonder what ex-Strabaddie Jay McDannell is doing these days now that he's out of the lucrative business of local government?

Say what?
It is refreshing to note that there has been no talk of the developers who will be building a BJ's on the property formerly targeted for the denied casino, and Straban Township wanting to get the Federal Government to lift what amounts to a deed restriction. Before there was to be a casino on that property, there was to be a Walmart.

Yes, we are talking about the property on the north side of US 30 across from Bob Monahan's illegally emblazoned Gateway Center. Walmart wanted the lot reconfigured with the addition of a small 14 acre parcel that Straban had "coincidentally" just acquired from the Feds for little more than some surveying fees. The acquisition was done under the Federal Lands to Parks program which gives former federal property to local governments [on application] if, and only if the land is A: used for recreational or educational purposes, B: budgeted for such use by the local government acquiring the property, and C: permanently made a part of the local government's property and never transferred to another party.

Part "C" above was the sticking point. And when Straban and Walmart approached the Park Service [the original conveying agency even though the parcel was owned by the FCC and used as an antenna farm], hand in hand, to request an exception to that restriction, the word hit the newspapers about the deal. It still stinks to this day. Contrary to Jay McDannell's statements, Walmart's option on the property did not expire before they pulled out of the deal, the bad press caused their pull-out.

Nevertheless, now Straban maintains a couple of ball fields on the parcel, exactly the kind of use the Lands to Parks program calls for. What a shame the Strabaddies had to have their feet held to the fire to keep it that way. How pleasant it is not to be revisiting this issue again for BJ's.

What gives?
Why is the Gettysburg Times now devoting so much time and effort to the Emmitsburg area? It seems of late that a lot of space on Page 3 in particular is being devoted to Emmitsburg events and issues. Is this some sort of effort to lure business and people from the Emmitsburg are up here to Gettysburg to live in some of the 20,000 houses due to be built here when the housiung bust gets turned around? Or is the Times attempting to put the Emmitsburg Dispatch out of busineess?

Stay tuned!


We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2005-2008: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.