Mayor Tom Beehan will testify before a U.S. Senate subcommittee on Wednesday, advocating for a Manhattan Project national historical park that would include Oak Ridge.
Beehan will represent Oak Ridge and two other Manhattan Project cities—Hanford, Wash., and Los Alamos, N.M.—as well as the nonprofit Energy Communities Alliance.
He will testify before the National Parks Subcommittee on a bill filed by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat. That bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, would set up a national park for Oak Ridge, Hanford, and Los Alamos.
A companion bill was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives last week by Rep. Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican.
Advocates have cited the bipartisan support for the legislation.
“It’s not your standard national park,” Beehan said Tuesday. “It’s more of a partnership.”
In Oak Ridge, the park could include the former K-25 site, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and possibly the Alexander Inn and some of the city’s “alphabet houses.”
DOE would still be responsible for the park sites at K-25 and ORNL, Beehan said.
“It’s a little bit different kind of partnership,” he said. “We believe that the proposed national park would serve as a model for the National Park Service.”
Beehan said the proposal is a collaboration between the three cities. Supporters would like Congress to act quickly to honor those involved in the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II.
“We really need to honor them,” he said.
Beehan’s testimony is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Wednesday. He is chair of the ECA’s executive committee.
Beehan was invited to testify by Sen. Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat who is chair of the National Parks Subcommittee.
The mayor, who has never testified before Congress, said Y-12 National Security Complex historian Ray Smith will testify before the House of Representatives.
He said Oak Ridge’s federal lobbyist, The Ferguson Group, will be at Wednesday’s hearing as will ECA Executive Director Seth Kirshenberg.
ECA is a nonprofit organization for local governments affected by DOE activities.