Park Service proposes first Morristown fee hike in two decades; public hearing Jan. 30

REDCOATS, BEWARE! Re-enactors celebrate American independence at Washington's Headquarters, July 4, 2012. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
REDCOATS, BEWARE! Re-enactors celebrate American independence at Washington's Headquarters, July 4, 2012. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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What is the Morristown National Historical Park worth to you?

You can put in your two cents on Jan. 30, 2015, when the National Park Service pitches its first fee hike in two decades.

let freedom ring
LET FREEDOM RING! Re-enactors cheer the Declaration of Independence at Washington’s Headquarters, Morristown, July 4, 2010. Photo by Joe Frasciello

The agency wants to raise admission to $7 –up from $4 — at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum in Morristown. An annual pass would double, to $30, under the proposal.

Entrance would remain free to youths under age 16, and to holders of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Senior, Access or Military passes.

“We are committed to keeping the park affordable but we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience,” said Morristown National Historical Park Superintendent Thomas Ross in a statement on Friday.

If approved, the admission increase would be the first since the early 1990s.  According to the Park Service, the extra revenue would:

  • Help repair and stabilize the historic Stark’s Brigade Monument in the Jockey Hollow area of the park.
  • Preserve and maintain the historic Wick Orchard.
  • Upgrade Visitor Center exhibits.
  • Improve programs to keep out non-native invasive plants, take vegetation inventories and control the deer population.

Next week’s presentation starts at 2:30 pm in the museum auditorium, at 30 Washington Place. Public comments will be invited.

Comments also can  be emailed to Vanessa Smiley, chief of interpretation and education at the park. The deadline for submitting comments is Jan. 30 at 5 pm.  Smiley said public feedback “will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.”

national park serviceCongress has cut budgets for national parks in recent years.  The Jockey Hollow visitor center closed earlier this month and won’t reopen until Feb. 18.  The Washington’s Headquarters Museum and the Ford Mansion are only open on  Saturdays and Sundays during this period.

Meanwhile, the nonprofit Washington Association has been raising money for a $3 million state-of-the-art Discover History Center at the museum.  This center is scheduled to open in February 2016, according to the association’s website.

Established in 1933 as the nation’s first historical park, the Morristown park actually consists of four sites:  Jockey Hollow, where the Continental Army wintered;  the Washington’s Headquarters Museum, which includes the Ford Mansion where Gen. George Washington spent a wartime winter; Fort Nonsense, a sentry post overlooking Morristown; and the Cross Estate.

In 2013, more than 300,000 people visited these locations, pumping $16 million into nearby communities and indirectly supporting 197 jobs in the area, by the Park Service’s estimates.

Here is the full statement from the Park Service:

Morristown National Historical Park Proposes Entrance Fee Increase

Morristown, NJ – Morristown National Historical Park will present a program on Your Fee Dollars at Work to discuss a possible fee increase in 2015. The current park entrance fees have been in place since the early 1990s.

Type of Fee

Entrance Fee

Current: $4

Proposed: $7

Park Annual Pass

Current: $ 15.00

Proposed: $ 30.00

 Entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or holders of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Senior, Access or Military Passes. These passes may be obtained at the Park.

 “We are committed to keeping the park affordable but we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience,” said Morristown National Historical Park Superintendent Thomas Ross.

Over the past five years several major projects have been completed using entrance fee revenue.

A new standby generator has been installed at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum that will immediately start when the building loses power. This will help ensure visitor and staff safety and will also provide power to collections areas, thus helping to preserve the collection by preventing major fluctuations in temperature and humidity during times of power loss.

Another project was the replacement of the support system and decking of a rustic bridge along the park’s historic Old Camp Road in Jockey Hollow. The bridge is an important part of the park’s trail and fire road system and is now safe for emergency and fire vehicles, horseback riders, and hikers to pass over it.

Additional revenue raised by a fee increase would help repair and stabilize the historic Stark’s Brigade Monument in the Jockey Hollow area of the park. The historic Wick Orchard would be preserved and maintained. Visitor Center exhibits could be upgraded. Improvements would be made in several conservation and sustainability projects, including control of non-native invasive plants, vegetation inventories, and deer exclosure maintenance and management.

 Morristown National Historical Park is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2013, more than 300,000 park visitors contributed $16 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 197 jobs in the local area.

Your Fee Dollars at Work program will take place on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, at 2:30 pm in the Washington’s Headquarters Museum auditorium at 30 Washington Place, Morristown, NJ, and will include a public comment session.

Comments can also be emailed to Vanessa Smiley, Chief of Interpretation and Education at Morristown National Historical Park, at Vanessa_Smiley@nps.gov. The deadline for submitting comments is Jan. 30 at 5 pm.

Following the program and your feedback, we will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.

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