A delegation from the City of Oak Ridge recently traveled to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to participate in a meeting with officials from the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Energy, and from Los Alamos and the Hanford communities to discuss the newly designated Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The meeting was sponsored by the Energy Communities Alliance, or ECA, which supported attendance at the meeting with travel grants to the participants.
The three-day event, with more than 50 in attendance, began with a tour of the cultural resources and Manhattan Project era sites at Los Alamos National Laboratory. David Klaus, deputy under secretary of management and performance with DOE, was the keynote speaker. He emphasized the importance of preserving the history of the Manhattan Project, and pointed to the important scientific and technological advancements that originated from that era.
Victor Knox, associate director for park planning, facilities, and lands for the National Park Service, then briefed attendees on the status of a memorandum of agreement, or MOA, currently under development by DOE and NPS. The draft MOA, which has been released for public comment, will govern the respective roles of the secretary of interior and secretary of energy in administering the park and its facilities. Completion of the MOA is the first major milestone required by the enacting legislation, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last December.
Oak Ridge Councilman Chuck Hope, who serves as the City Council representative to the ECA, gave a presentation about Oak Ridge community assets and activities that will help support the national park. He also led a session on marketing and the economics of heritage tourism, which included convention and tourism professionals from each of the three sites.
“The meeting was a very productive follow up the March site visit to Oak Ridge by the National Park Service and DOE team leading the effort to formally establish the park,” Hope said. “We discussed issues ranging from infrastructure and transportation, to joint marketing and how ‘friends of the park’ organizations are established. With the excellent Manhattan Project exhibits at AMSE and the Children’s Museum, coupled with the expanded public tours offered by DOE, I believe Oak Ridge is in a good position to help the National Park Service with an interim plan to expedite the formal opening of the park.”
In addition to Hope, attendees from Oak Ridge were Government Affairs and Information Services Director Amy Fitzgerald; Community Development Director Kathryn Baldwin; Center for Oak Ridge Oral History Library Clerk Jordan Reed; Marc DeRose, executive director of the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors Bureau; and Colin Colverson, NPS liaison for the DOE Oak Ridge Operations Office. Roane County Executive Ron Woody and Roane Alliance Director of Marketing and Tourism Pam May also attended.
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