National Park Service Can’t Catch a Break at Gettysburg
I just finished reading, and got quite a laugh from, a news item posted over on Eric Wittenberg’s site. Apparently, small business owners in Gettysburg are blaming their poor summer season on the NPS’s new visitor center which they believe has moved potential customers away from Steinwehr Avenue. The reasoning is absolutely hysterical:
But when tourism season kicked off in May, many Steinwehr business
owners wouldn’t say whether they expected the visitor center’s move to
negatively impact the street. Some even said they felt the potential
impact had been overestimated.
At the time, the head of the Steinwehr Avenue Business Alliance said it was “too early to tell.” But earlier this week, Tom Crist said there’s evidence the original fears were well-founded. In fact, he attributed this year’s slow business to two reasons –
the state of the economy and the opening of the new visitor center.
Now, let’s just slow down here. What evidence is there to suggest that the VC is hurting downtown businesses and how exactly is the Steinweher Avenue Business Alliance distinguishing between the impact of the VC as opposed to broader concerns having to do with the fact of high gas prices and a slow economy? First, John Latschar is criticized for removing the Electric Map and now he is being blamed for fewer shoppers in the downtown area. What’s next, we blame him for the outcome of the battle? It’s funny how the NPS has gone from victim during the casino debate to the aggressor.
The NPS’s primary responsibility is to interpret the battlefield for its visitors. If it can be demonstrated that the move is hurting downtown businesses than it is the city’s responsibility to address the problem and invest in its infrastructure.