WASHINGTON — The National Park Service said Wednesday that it will delay but not abandon a plan to charge entrance fees at several historic parks, including the one containing the Liberty Bell.
The proposal to charge admission at Philadelphia's Independence National Historical Park, Valley Forge National Historical Park and other parks was mired in confusion just four days before its scheduled implementation.
Things were so uncertain that the superintendent of the Philadelphia site said he did not know whether the plan meant that visitors would be charged to view the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, or whether those attractions would be excluded from the $2 fee. There are 20 buildings open to the public at the park, which stretches for eight city blocks.
Opposed to Plan
"There is no plan," Supt. Hobart Cawood said. He said all that is certain is that no fee plan at the Philadelphia park will go into effect on Monday, as had been originally scheduled.
Cawood said imposing a fee anywhere at the park is wrong, and that "the only people I can find who are for it are my superiors."
The park service announced last December that it would impose entrance fees at 73 parks, monuments and other installations for the first time on Monday and raise entrance charges at 61 other sites.
Included on the list for new charges were the Statue of Liberty National Monument, the Valley Forge and Independence parks and Florida's Canaveral National Seashore.
The park service said Wednesday that fees at Valley Forge, where George Washington's army camped, and at Independence park and Canaveral would likely be delayed until entrance stations could be built, cash registers obtained and employees properly certified.
But, in a reversal of a statement issued by the park service on Tuesday, service Director William Penn Mott Jr. said a $1 fee will still be assessed at the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor beginning next week.
Philadelphia Democratic Reps. Peter H. Kostmayer and William H. Gray III and Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.) were told Tuesday by a park service liaison that fees at the Statue of Liberty, Independence park and several other sites were being "indefinitely postponed," in part because of public opposition.