WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 3, the first day of the 115th Congress, U.S. Rep. John Katko announced that he has reintroduced legislation that he authored and passed through the House during his first term in office, the Fort Ontario Study Act. U.S. Reps. Claudia Tenney (NY-22) and Louise Slaughter (NY-25) joined Representative Katko as original cosponsors of the bill.
The Fort Ontario Study Act commissions a special resource study of Fort Ontario and Safe Haven in Oswego County to evaluate the site’s national significance and determine the suitability of its designation as a part of the National Park system.
This study is a prerequisite for receiving National Park designation.
“Over the past two years, I’ve worked together with local advocates, leaders, and community members in Oswego County to raise the profile of historic Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter,” said Rep. Katko. “Preserving this site as a National Park will encourage tourism, bolster our local economy, and protect the rich history of Oswego County. I’m proud to once again introduce this measure and am determined to fight to make it law.”
“For those of us involved with Safe Haven and Fort Ontario becoming a National Park, we would like to thank Congressman Katko for his advocacy and efforts in this process. As there are less than 100 former refugees left, it is imperative that the bill go forward,” said Judy Coe Rapaport, advisory board member and past president of Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Center.
Over the course of the past two years, 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.
In 2016, Rep. Katko announced that the National Park Service granted his request to begin a reconnaissance study to assess the best way to preserve the site.
The study will begin in 2017.
Rep. Katko has focused extensively on growing Central New York’s tourism-based economy, and, in addition to introducing this legislation, has worked with community members and stakeholders at the Tubman Home in Auburn, which is well on its way to becoming a National Park.
Congressman John Katko represents the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga, and Wayne counties and the western portion of Oswego County.
For more information, please visit https://katko.house.gov or www.facebook.com/RepJohnKatko.