Profit if possible

The rhetorical question was asked in May: Is the state the
best entity to own and operate the Brandywine Battlefield Park?

That question arose during a public hearing on the fate of
the 52-acre park along Route 1 in Chadds Ford Township even though virtually
everyone knew what was going to happen–that members of the Pennsylvania
Historic and Museum Commission would, the following month, vote to cease
funding the park and attempt to turn the operation over to Chadds Ford
Township.

PHMC did just that in June and the park was shut down for
two weeks before the, then, Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates, took over
the routine operation.

That takeover, however, was–and is–only temporary. The
associates, now the Friends of the Brandywine Battlefield, can’t afford to run
the roughly $325,000 per year operation. The group doesn’t have the money and
neither does Chadds Ford Township.

George Thorpe, Chadds Ford supervisor and past president of
the associates has been on a mission to find funding to keep the park going. He
received guarantees of $75,000 from Delaware County and three Delco
townships–Chadds Ford, Concord and Thornbury. Even the state of Pennsylvania is
kicking in $150,000, but neither Chester County nor any Chester County
townships in the area have made any commitment to fund the park.

Mr. Thorpe said that while he doesn’t like the idea of governments
being involved in operating the park, government money would act as startup
capital until businesses started chipping in. He said some businesses have told
him they’d be willing to help, but want to see Chester County and more
townships pony up first.

So, should the state take the park back? No, it shouldn’t.
And neither should the U.S. Park Service, as has been rumored. Let’s keep the
park a private operation, albeit nonprofit since it likely can’t make a profit,
according to Mr. Thorpe.

The state owns the property, so let the state continue to
pay for the utilities and maintenance on the Visitors Center, historic houses
and out buildings, and provide grants to an entity that would run the park.

That entity would be comprised of businesses–mostly from the
tourism and hospitality industry–and private individuals who would establish
and fund a nonprofit organization that would keep the park operating as an
educational facility. All monies these businesses and private individuals put
up would be returned in the form of tax credits from the state.

And if someone can come up with a way to have such a
facility make a profit, that’s even better. Get the state, counties and
townships out of it completely. That should be the goal.

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