CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2240, the Lowell National Historical Park Land Exchange Act of 2011, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority. The bill was introduced on June 16, 2011, by Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and referred to the committee on Natural Resources, which held a mark up and reported the bill by voice vote on February 29, 2012.
H.R. 2240 would authorize the exchange of land or interest in land between Lowell National Historical Park and the city of Lowell in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The bill would allow the Secretary of Interior to exchange any land or interest in land within the boundaries of the park for any land or interest in land owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the city of Lowell, or the University of Massachusetts Building Authority. H.R. 2240 would enable the National Park Service (NPS) to acquire and integrate new lands into the Lowell National Historical Park through exchanges with public agencies. Under current law, NPS can only acquire lands for the park through donation. Under the bill, if the exchanged facilities or infrastructure are not of equal value, that the values would have to be equalized by a cash payment to the Department of Interior.
According to Committee Report 112-450, the Lowell National Historical Park in Lowell, Massachusetts, was created in 1978, to preserve and interpret the City's nationally significant historical and cultural sites, structures, and districts associated with the City's role in the 19th century American industrial revolution. The Lowell National Historical Park Land Exchange Act of 2011 (H.R. 2240) would authorize a land exchange between the Lowell National Historical Park and the City of Lowell, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, or the University of Massachusetts Building Authority. This will allow the transfer of the visitor center parking lot on Dutton Street in exchange for an equal number of parking spaces in a new garage to be built by the City adjacent to the existing parking lot.
The National Park Service land where the Dutton Street lots are located is needed for development of the Hamilton Canal District. The stakeholders have concluded that this is the use most beneficial to the community and park visitors. While the National Park Service supports the exchange with Lowell, federal law requires that it receive land of equal value in exchange. The legislation allows for payment to the Park to equalize the exchange and meet the requirement. Any payment received would go to the U.S. Treasury.
According to CBO, enacting H.R. 2240 would have no significant impact on the federal budget.