Maffei's bill for Tubman national park moves along

May 31, 2013

Abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s Auburn home is one step closer to becoming a national park and it could mean a makeover for the property.

The bill to designate Tubman’s home a national park will get a hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources June 6. Syracuse-area Rep. Dan Maffei sponsored the bill to recognize the leader of the anti-slavery network known as the Underground Railroad.

“We have gotten a bipartisan group of people to co-sponsor it, including every single member of the New York state delegation, Republican and Democrat, and so I think we’re on a really good track we just need to not give up,” he said.

After the hearing, the committee is likely to make any suggested changes to the legislation and vote on whether to send the bill to the full House for final passage.

The legislation would authorize federal grants up to $7.5 million to preserve and restore Tubman’s former residence and related historic properties on 32 acres in Auburn, and turn it into a more organized tourist attraction.

“We would need to staff it because one of the things that we’ve been struggling with now is that the AME Zion Church has had volunteers there, but really the professional staff parks could do would make sure that people really know that whole story," Maffei added, "and could ask the questions and we could have tours and tour buses and those sort of things that a national park really allows you to do.”

If approved, the property would become the first national park to commemorate an African American woman.