Groups work to preserve two Frederick County battlefields
Proposed incinerator, gas compressor station would be located two historical sites
Tom Fedor/The Gazette
On July 9, 1864, 2,359 men lost their lives in the "Battle that Saved Washington" at Monocacy National Battlefield near present-day Urbana.
Now a battle is heating up to save that battlefield from being marred by the view of a proposed incinerator, which would include a 350-foot tall smokestack.
Frederick County's preferred location for its proposed $527 million incinerator — "the McKinney site," is located in Buckeystown between Interstate 270 and Route 85. The sight of the smokestack would permanently degrade the experience of visiting the battlefield, according to Susan Trail, the park's superintendent.
Members of Citizens for Incinerator Alternatives Now, a community group formed March 4, hope they can stop the county from considering construction of the incinerator at the proposed location.
CFIA Now is one of two relatively new community groups that are working to protect Frederick County battlefields that are under threat of having large industrial facilities built on or near them.
The second is Citizens for the Preservation of Middletown Valley. Formed in January 2008, the group aims to stop Dominion Transmission from building a $55 million gas compressor station near South Mountain Battlefield in Middletown.
In their members' eyes, the two groups' concerns were legitimized at the national level last week when the Civil War Preservation Trust of Washington, D.C., included the two battlefields in its report "History Under Siege," which listed the nation's 10 most-endangered Civil War historical sites.
"It is very significant when a national group recognizes the threat in your community," said Rick Maranto, president of the Middletown group. "… We're not against large corporations building out facilities, but we need to do it in conjunction with communities, not by overruling the wishes of communities. It ought to be a partnership. The out-of-state corporations should not be able to dictate what part of history or hallowed ground they will build on."
Both groups have planned a slate of events for the coming months aimed at getting word out about the proposed facilities and the impacts they could have on the battlefields.
The Middletown group held a press conference in Middletown Saturday announcing that a group of Civil War re-enactors will stage a Sept. 12 march on South Mountain Battlefield in order to draw attention to the issue, and that its members will host a number of other events through the fall.
CFIA Now held its first "public awareness event" Saturday at the Westview Promenade in Frederick, where members handed out informational fliers and spoke with residents about the incinerator and impacts it could have on the battlefield, as well as other concerns they have with building such a facility. Robert Chubin, the group's communications director, said it has a "few more [events] in the works."
"We're trying to reach out the public and make them fully aware of what's going on and then take what will likely be public concern to the [Frederick Board of County] Commissioners who will hopefully reconsider," he said at the Saturday event, where the group spoke with hundreds of residents about the incinerator. "Today our focus is to raise awareness about the incinerator."
E-mail Connor Adams Sheets at firstname.lastname@example.org.