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City Offers Use Of Welcome Center To NPS To Help Establish National Park

Ste. Genevieve Mayor Paul Hassler last month thanked David Vela, acting deputy director for the National Park Service (NPS), for visiting Ste. Genevieve and reiterated “the city’s previous offer” for “shared use of the Ste. Genevieve Welcome Center to the NPS staff before and during the establishment of the [Sainte Genevieve National Historical] Park and for whatever period may be desired.”

Hassler’s letter was dated August 19, 10 days after Vela visited Ste. Genevieve for the first time and conducted meetings with a number of parties, including the city and the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Missouri (NSCDA-MO), before speaking with stakeholders over lunch.

NSCDA-MO has offered to donate its five historic homes in downtown Ste. Genevieve — including the Louis Bolduc House and the Jean-Baptiste Valle House — to help establish the national park.

The organization also offered to sell the Centre for French Colonial Life, a museum it opened in the spring of 2018 in a former bank building at 198 Market St., for potential use as a national park visitors center.

NPS currently owns one property in Ste. Genevieve, the historic Beauvais-Amoureux House on St. Mary’s Road, which was donated by the state of Missouri. The state has offered other parcels as well, but no other historic homes within the city limits. NPS has not taken up any of those offers yet.

Patricia Trap, who was acting director for the NPS’ Midwest office in Omaha, Nebraska, at the time of her visit last month, said she was working on a letter to NSCDA-MO about its proposal, but NPS officials said last week that letter had not been sent yet.

The city’s offer of the Welcome Center was intended to “expedite” the establishment of the park.

“Please know that our entire community is eagerly looking forward to having experienced Park Service staff assigned here on a full time basis, at the earliest possible date,” Hassler wrote.

The letter said the Welcome Center “could easily serve dual use as the NPS Visitor Center” with full ADA access, a parking lot for cars and one for buses, an interior gallery with flexible space, two storage areas, a mini-kitchen, front desk, back office, full restroom facilities, and a security system.

“The coming of the NPS unit will have an important economic impact that will reach beyond the city of Ste. Genevieve and into the surrounding region,” Hassler wrote.

(Information from Mayor Paul Hassler’s letter to the National Park Service acting deputy director David Vela.)

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