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By DAVID CAMPHOUSE
New Philadelphia Association (NPA) Executive Director Marynel Corton reported recently that NPA will receive $8,000 from the State of Illinois to expand and improve parking at the New Philadelphia town site.
According to Corton, the state funds will double the parking area’s capacity.
“Right now, there is a gravel area that has room for three cars,” Corton said. “The goal is to have six parking spots.”
In addition, Corton said, the state funds will increase accessibility to the New Philadelphia town site and informational kiosk.
“The area will be oiled and chipped,” Corton said. “The surface will be more solid and durable, and it will be easier for people to use it.”
In order to expand the parking area, a new culvert needed to be installed in the ditch on the west side of the New Philadelphia site. Installation of the new section of culvert was completed during a work day at New Philadelphia on Monday, June 20.
Several NPA board members and community volunteers gathered at New Philadelphia for the work day.
Corton said that the work day allowed the NPA to complete several repairs and improvements.
“We had a leak at a water hydrant by the kiosk, which required excavating the water line,” Corton said. “We also needed to bury an electrical cable deeper than it was previously buried, and we put in the culvert to extend the parking area.”
In addition to working with state legislators to make improvements at New Philadelphia, NPA is also working at the federal level to better preserve and celebrate New Philadelphia.
In fact, U.S. Representatives Rodney Davis, Darin LaHood, Danny Davis, and Mike Bost are cosponsors of a bill that would make the New Philadelphia site a unit of the National Park Service.
The continued development and recognition of the New Philadelphia site that would be made possible under the auspices of the National Park Service, according to Corton, is a critical step in realizing new Philadelphia’s potential to teach residents and visitors about Pike County and American history.
“It’s important to demonstrate that African Americans were involved in settling Pike County early on,” Corton said. “Inclusion in the National Park system would allow New Philadelphia to be included as one of the seven percent of National Park sites that tell African American history.”
In addition, inclusion as a unit of the National Park Service would help create economic development in the area and provide organizational backing for the NPA.
“It would help encourage tourism and bring people to the area and to western Pike County,” Corton said. “And it would help NPS preserve the site and tell its unique story. It’s important enough that it deserves to be on the national stage.”
The House bill that would make New Philadelphia a unit of the National Park Service has gained committee approval and is awaiting assignment for a floor vote by the U.S. House of Representatives.