WASHINGTON — It’s a case of ball fields and picnic tables versus a secret history.
Fort Hunt Park, near Mount Vernon in Fairfax County, has been used in many different ways in its history. During World War II, the U.S. government used facilities there to interrogate German POW’s for intelligence purposes.
But an attempt to outline that history by the National Park Service, which runs the park, is now on hold.
Opposition from local residents, with the help of Congressman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and others, have sent the park service back to the drawing board
Plans to remove some of the pavilions and picnic tables for an interpretive center have been scrapped.
“The public owns the parks, and proper management and balance of these parks are critical,” Connolly says. “I think there’s a way of sort of reminding people of the history, so that people can put it in context while still allowing thorough and complete access to the park.”
The site, along the George Washington Parkway near former President George Washington’s home, was once a native American village.
It was a fort during the Spanish American War and also a base camp for the Civilian Conservation Corp during the Great Depression.
Currently, it is a popular destination for people who live nearby for picnics, hiking, biking and athletic events.
Connolly says the National Park Service could have a revised plan for changes at the park ready by the spring of 2012.