National Park Service Policy: Agree or Else
In the summer of 1988 the National Park Service and its boosters ran into a firestorm of protest when they tried to expand the Minute Man National Historic Park in Concord, Lincoln and Lexington, Massachussetts, the site of the outbreak of the American Revolution 20 miles west of Boston.
Created in 1959, this National Park was the first in the nation to be carved out of predominantly privately owned property following promises to some 150 frightened home owners, farmers and small business owners that eminent domain would not be used. Almost 30 years later the preservationists wanted over 30 more homes and land, and to close a major road.
But long-time local residents still remembered the carnage when the National Park Service broke its promises and ruthlessly seized private property to create the park in the name of our nation's battle for freedom and the rights of the individual.
Following the usual official denials of the park's history and insistence that under a policy of "willing buyer, willing seller" condemnation would not be used for the expansion, a local reporter called the head of Park Service land acquisition in Wasington, DC, Will Kriz. Kriz bluntly revealed that "willing seller" is meaningles and that unless the legislation authorizing the park prohibits condemnation the normal practice is to take property by eminent domain if "negotiations" do not succeed. (Prohibition of condemnation at National Parks is rare, and is always subject to change.)
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Last Update: 11/27/03