In an earlier post I committed to ask Governor Joe Manchin his position of the “sale of landmarks” issue discussed in this post: “A question for the WV Division of Culture and History – What’s a Historic Civil War Site go for these days?”
Following is the text of that email sent to the Governor today, November 17, 2009.
“The mission of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History is to identify, preserve, protect, promote, and present the ideas, arts, and artifacts of West Virginia’s heritage, building pride in our past accomplishments and confidence in our future.”
Taking this statement at face value, one wonders why the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office feels compelled to accept a financial settlement in order to permit a “for-profit” business to adversely impact the very West Virginia historic sites they are charged to protect, in advance of the actual activity which will create the problem. My interpretation of “identify, preserve, protect, promote, and present the ideas, arts, and artifacts of West Virginia’s heritage” does not include the statement, “unless we get a few bucks!”
The WVSHPO recently priced the negative impact of a pending industrial wind installation in Mineral County, which, by their own assessment, will negatively impact 18 historic landmarks, for the paltry sum of $10,000. Should this project, which is before the WV PSC, be permitted, twenty-three huge turbines will be placed in the Allegheny Mountain migratory flyway, and reside there for some 25 years. Whether you support the concept of wind energy as a viable resource or not, has no bearing on the fact that this “sale of landmarks” amounts to an incredibly ridiculous resolution to the problem, which, again, the agency itself has determined will exist should the turbines be erected. If the issue is view, please explain how a $10,000 check eliminates the issue. The very execution of this agreement between the WVSHPO and US WindForce, the wind developer, is insulting.
It is important to point out that the WVSHPO did not take into consideration the impact on our close neighbor’s historic sites in the study and resulting mitigation. The WVSPO, at the same time it settled Mineral County and ignored Maryland, is asking that the state of Virginia take corrective action to a wind installation project which will cast a similar negative view impact on Camp Allegheny. Based on the willingness of the WVSHPO to settle Mineral County for quick cash, the state of Virginia has to be asking, “Just how much does a Civil War historic site go for these days?”
My issue with this inconsistent application of a questionable power goes beyond the fact that we wish now to be treated differently by Virginia than we actually treated Maryland. The very action of accepting cash to avoid adherence to the prime purpose for which the WV Division of Culture and History’s exists, might indicate the agency needs a strong review of its goals.
Perhaps a proper course for the WV Division of Culture and History, under their mission statement, would be to instruct US WindForce to remedy the problem. Should US WindForce not provide a corrective action plan, the WVSHPO should advise its chain of command, within WV government, that the project should not proceed.
One would assume there is an avenue of appeal available to US WindForce in which they could present their justification for adversely impacting the community. Presumably, at this level, US WindForce would be required to justify why this intrusion is necessary and for what reason remedy cannot be made. In a formal review, citizens might actually be able to participate in their own little effort at “home rule,” instead of having a state agency some 240 miles from the circumstance “rule.” While the decision to come from this appeal venue may not be popular to some, they may at least feel satisfied in its fairness and the invitation to participate in their own fate.
The inconsistent and questionable action taken by the WVSHPO in Mineral County and now in process at the state of Virginia is unnecessary and avoidable. This agency must protect our heritage. Should the ability to protect fall outside the agency’s mission, the agency should refuse positive endorsement by accepting mitigation and simply pass the violator to the appropriate agency for remedy.
I’ve detailed my concerns on this matter, including related links, at an amateur blog intended to provide information to its readers. The specific link I refer to is https://alleghenytreasures.wordpress.com/2009/11/14/a-question-for-the-wv-division-of-culture-and-history-whats-a-historic-civil-war-site-go-for-these-days/ My apologies for the need to cut and past, however your contact mail service did not accept the live link. Should you read the post, you will note that I told readers I would send this note to you requesting your position on the matter. I told them I would publish your reply to this inquiry, or, should you choose not to comment, that as well.
Your time and consideration to this matter is very much appreciated.