Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Walmart foes get reinforcements

Looks like the cavalry is on the way in the Wilderness Walmart fight.

More legal support is coming to the folks suing Orange County over the giant development planned at the gateway to the Civil War  battlefield where Generals Lee and Grant first slugged it out.

First, the director of the National Park Service is taking a high-profile stand, making it crystal-clear that he’s no fan of the 240,000-square-foot project, which would be anchored by a 138,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter.

Second, two more nationwide groups—the Civil War Preservation Trust and the National Parks Conservation Association—aim to file a “friend of the court” brief in the lawsuit now pending against the county.

Six Orange and Spotsylvania landowners and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are challenging Orange. They contend the Board of Supervisors  brushed aside concerns  about the project’s harm to the battlefield—and neighboring Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park—when they approved the permit Walmart needed to build its big-box store.

“The purpose of the amicus brief is to further underscore to the court the historic significance of the Wilderness Battlefield,"  Jim Campi, public policy director of the Civil War Preservation Trust," said yesterday.  "In particular, we wanted to demonstrate the role Congress played in identifying the Wilderness as a priority Civil War battlefield, as well as note the scores of elected officials and historians who consider the Wilderness as a national historic treasure which ought to be preserved.”

Catharine Gilliam, Virginia program manager with the NPCA, called the big-gox development "one of the greatest current threats to a national park in the country. And NPCA’s mission is to protect national parks, which we have tried to do at every stage of the process with the Wilderness."

She noted that preservationists had, early on, offered to finance an open-ended study, with all parties taking part, to shape the future of the park gateway area in eastern Orange.

"It was a year ago that we laid out a collaborative process that would have, by now, reached a resolution which would have met Walmart’s goals, the developer’s goals, the landowner’s and the  county’s," Gilliam said last night "It is very unfortunate that constructive process was rejected, and I have confidence that the issues will be heard by the court."


For the complete story, see Thursday’s Free Lance-Star.

For all of The Free Lance-Star’s Wilderness Walmart coverage, and people’s opinions on the issue, visit 

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