Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Battle over Battlefields Delayed

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Spotsylvania supervisors just tabled their vote on the Civil War Trust’s proposal to buy the old GM Plant. Tom Gilmore with the trust said that the old plant’s 77 acres are part of “one of the most historically significant sites in the United States.”

But supervisors worried that the land was even more significant for other reasons–its potential tax revenue, its land which could be used to widen route 2.

And Gary Skinner, who outlined three concerns in a letter to the board couldn’t be at tonight’s meeting. So Emmitt Marshall moved to table the vote until June 28.

“It’s too important an issue to vote without everyone being present,” he said.

Gilmore said the wait could jeopardize the federal grant paying for the project. When supervisors asked why they were given such a tight timeframe, Gilmore explained that the near-shutdown of the federal government played a role. And when the money did come through, the feds also said that the money would need to be committed by the middle of June. Such conditions are rare, Gilmore said.

Gilmore said that the land would be used to create a national destination battlefield park, which could generate nearly $1.2 million.

Marshall doubted those figures–and estimates that 20,000 tourists would visit the site.  

“I don’t know what 20,000 people are going to come to a GM plant to begin with, because it had a battle on it a couple hundred years ago,” he said.

Somewhat ironically, the discussion was followed by a report on the recent battle reenactment in late May–learning that 7,000 people came from 11 states and two countries.