WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative John Katko today (Dec. 10) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives which will advance the designation of Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum in Oswego to National Park status.
U.S. Representative Richard Hanna, whose district also includes a portion of Oswego County, joined Rep. Katko as an original co-sponsor in the introduction of this legislation today.
“Fort Ontario is one of our state’s — and our nation’s — greatest and most unique historical assets. In fact, it is the only fort that has been involved in every war since the French and Indian war,” said U.S. Rep. Katko. “Preserving this historic location as a National Park has the potential to grow tourism and boost the regional economy of not only Oswego County, but all of Central New York.”
“I am pleased to cosponsor this bill to promote our proud upstate New York history,” U.S. Rep. Hanna said. “It is important to recognize our historical assets and to do so in a way that promotes and encourages tourism for our region. I look forward to the results of this comprehensive study to determine how to best preserve and protect Fort Ontario.”
Over the course of the past several months, individuals from across Oswego County have worked to organize local support for the designation of the 260 year old Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum as a National Park.
As a part of these efforts, Rep. Katko has visited the fort on several occasions, met individually with a cross-section of his constituents in the area surrounding the fort, and took part in an information and rally event to raise community awareness for this project.
Judy Rapaport, advisory board member for Safe Haven and past president said, “Ever since its inception, Safe Haven Museum has been struggling to tell the story as the only refugee shelter for victims of the Holocaust during World War II. The initiative to begin the study for National Park status will help achieve that goal. I want to thank Congressman Katko for his critical role in this process.”
“Fort Ontario and the Fort Ontario Refugee Shelter have been the sites of significant national and international events,” said New York State Assemblyman Will Barclay. “I am pleased to support this effort that would give the fort and Oswego the recognition it deserves for having been home to many important battles, treatment centers for military and civilian victims of the Spanish Influenza and, of course, the only refugee shelter in the U.S. for victims of the Holocaust. This site is of local, state, federal, and international significance and deserves to be recognized as such and I commend Congressman Katko for his efforts in this regard.”
“Protecting and preserving our history is a central function of my job as Oswego County Clerk. I am thrilled that Congressman Katko has introduced legislation to make Fort Ontario a National Park. We know locally the treasure that is Fort Ontario and this designation will help boost our recreational tourism so that we can share Fort Ontario with the rest of the nation,” said Oswego County Clerk Mike Backus.
“I want to thank Congressman Katko for all his efforts and commitment to the city of Oswego and spearheading the movement to make Fort Ontario a National Park,” said Oswego Mayor Thomas Gillen. “His successful leadership will create a major economic engine for the growth of the entire Central New York Community.”
Oswego Mayor-elect Billy Barlow added, “Fort Ontario is undoubtedly one of our greatest assets in the city of Oswego and I am ecstatic with Congressman Katko’s ambitious effort to promote Fort Ontario as not only a regional attraction but a National Attraction, so that Fort Ontario and all of the city of Oswego can be recognized and marketed as a desirable destination.”