BY JOE MARVILLI
The chances of historic sites in Flushing being added to the National Park Service are looking better after a hearing in Washington D.C.
The Flushing Remonstrance Study Act was introduced by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) in September. But it was last week’s Congressional hearing that garnered the support of the United States Dept. of the Interior, the agency that oversees federal parkland.
Meng’s legislation would require the Secretary of the Interior to study the feasibility of the National Park Service acquiring sites associated with the signing of the Flushing Remonstrance in 1657. The end goal is for the sites of the John Bowne House and the Quaker Meeting House to become a unit of the National Park Service.
The Remonstrance was a document signed by 30 local citizens to protest the ban of the Quakers’ religious practices in the colony of New Netherland. While the document was ignored by the local government, things changed when John Bowne was jailed for allowing Quakers to hold services in his house. He appealed to the Dutch West India Company, which chartered the colony, and as a result, religious prosecution against the Quakers ended.
During a hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, National Park Service Associate Director Victor Knox said that the Interior Department supported the bill. If it passed, the agency would study the properties to see if they meet the criteria to be included in the National Park Service.
Knox added that the standards for its inclusion would be based on the sites meeting national significance, suitability, feasibility and the need for National Park Service management. The study would consider other alternatives for preservation as well. It will cost between $200,000 and $300,000.
“The Flushing Remonstrance is not only an important part of my local history, but also a significant event in our nation’s history,” Meng said during the hearing. “Bowne’s story of personal courage should not be forgotten, and neither should the Remonstrance which encapsulated his ideals.”
According to Meng’s communications director, Jordan Goldes, both sites would benefit from being added to the National Park Service, as they would garner federal resources, would become more well-known and could possibly allow the Remonstrance itself to come home to Flushing. At the moment, it is kept in Albany. Goldes added that there would be a positive economic impact as well.
“People from across the country, even around the world, travel to national parks,” he said. “If the Bowne House and Quaker Meeting House become part of the national park system, the sites would stand to receive many more visitors each year.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.