Letter: Weir Farm thanks stewards during shutdown

To the Editors:

Friends of Weir Farm NHS, a not-for-profit partner of Weir Farm National Historic Site, is grateful for the caring local community, including residents and neighbors, who have been such good stewards of the park’s resources during the partial United States Government shutdown that has affected so many sites throughout the National Park Service.

Weir Farm NHS, the country’s premier national park dedicated to American art, which is nestled in our wonderfully supportive community, has not experienced the type of resource destruction, trash build-up and unsanitary conditions many parks have so tragically suffered in the last several weeks. Although the grounds of Weir Farm NHS remain open to visitors from dawn to dusk, the employees are either furloughed without pay, or working without pay under severely constrained conditions.

For our community, this means the following:  

  • Projects scheduled for the May 2019 park seasonal opening will be delayed.

  • Historic preservation work and backlog maintenance is stopped.

  • Summer season hiring is suspended.

  • Special use permits are not issued.

  • Partner projects are put on hold.

  • Volunteer activities are suspended.

  • Public bathrooms are closed.

  • Telephone and email messages from the public are not answered.

  • Visitor services are non-existent.

  • Programs and visits for the 2019 season, such as Every Kid in a Park 4th Grade visits, are not being scheduled.

  • No clearing of ice and snow for winter access.

As a park partner and advocate, we want to make you aware of the hidden negative impacts that this partial shutdown has inflicted on Weir Farm NHS. The park typically continues to generate ample economic benefit for local businesses during the winter season. This activity has now been curtailed for several weeks, which has even broader impacts.

While Weir Farm NHS is a national park, it is also a magnificent local historic treasure we all love and want to protect. Our park, and its dedicated and talented employees, deserve better than to have services suspended and to be shut out of their jobs. We hope our local communities will join with us in supporting your local national park by contacting your representatives in Washington.
Judy Wander, Liz Castagna, Sheila Wakoff, and Jim Burch
Friends of Weir Farm National Historic Site
Wilton, Jan. 16