Long And Winding Road Led To Eventual Establishment Of Park

By MARK EVANS

STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD

The drive to establish a national park in Ste. Genevieve has been a slow process, with many twists and turns.

The move started around the turn of the current century and led to an eventual National Park Service (NPS) study and assessment of Ste. Genevieve.

In November 2001, U.S. Senator Kit Bond introduced a bill calling for a feasibility study. It later beame part of a larger bill bond introduced in May 2003.

In 2005, U.S. Representative Russ Carnahanintroduced a House bill, while U.S. Senator Jim Talent introduced a bill in the Senate that would authorize money for a study of the feasibility of creating a National Park System site or heritage area in Ste. Genevieve.

A group of Ste. Genevieve residents, in colonial outfits, made a trip to Washington, D.C., to lobby in favor of the bills.

It took a long time, but in August 2015, The Ste. Genevieve Draft Special Recourse Study and Environmental Assessment was published.

It found that Ste. Genevieve “is nationally significant and suitable, and that certain resources within the district are feasible and have a need for direct NPS management.”

That led to another path through both houses of the U.S. Congress.

BILLS INTRODUCED MORE THAN ONCE

U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill and U.S. Representative Jason Smith originally introduced legislation to establish the  park in May 2016. 

The proposed park, based on the resource and feasibility study, was to include two French colonial vertical log structures on St. Mary’s Road in the city as well as the Kern-Delassus House, also a vertical log structure, on Highway 61 south of the city of Ste. Genevieve. The historic properties in the city include the Bequette-Ribault House owned by Chaumette; and the Bauvais- Amoureaux House that was part of the Missouri State Parks system. In addition, the non-historic Creole House owned by the state of Missouri would also be included in the park boundary.

The NPS study also recommended purchasing a private residence and the boat-yard located across St. Mary’s Road from the historic properties with demolition of those new structures suggested to restore the area to an early 1800s atmosphere with unobstructed views of the agricultural  fields.

Once the bill was passed out of committee, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) put together a report, dated December 15, 2017, which estimates that implementing the bill – including property acquisition, maintenance and operations – would cost the National Park Service $6 million from 2018 to 2022.

“Using information from the NPS and from local officials … about the properties in question, CBO estimates that acquiring the 13 acres of property would cost less than $500,000,” the report stated. “CBO expects that the property owned by the state of Missouri would likely be donated to the NPS and property owned by private individuals would be purchased by the NPS with appropriated funds over the next  five years.

“In addition, CBO estimates that the NPS would spend about $1 million per year on maintenance and operating costs for the park once the properties are acquired.”

The CBO report released in November 2016 after a similar bill was reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources estimated that $335,000 would be spent on property acquisition.