Property Rights and the Fishkill Supply Depot
In a small community 60 miles north of New York City history and patriotism have squared off against the age old American belief in the supremacy of property rights. Let me explain, the Fishkill Supply Depot was a military camp that supplied all the American forces operating in the Hudson River Valley during the duration of the American Revolution. Without the Depot there would have been no victory at Saratoga and no turning point in the war.
Up to 1,000 soldiers gave their lives at the Depot throughout the war making it the largest American Revolution burial site in the nation. Up until recently the Town of Fishkill has sided with property owners at the Depot site who want to build yet another shopping mall on the land.
That is until local activist Mara Farrell took up the cause of defending the Depot land against development by enlisting the support of local historians, the New York Times, the Poughkeepsie Journal and a number of other publications all joined in support of preserving the Depot land against the will of developers and local politicians.
It looked like the developers were going to pave over the Depot land when all of a sudden archaeologists using new methods discovered soldiers’ graves on the land. Development came to a standstill and then Senator Chuck Schumer took up the cause with a proposal to amend a federal law that protects Civil War battle sites to include American Revolution sites as well.
Now momentum has shifted to preservationists as they trump the desires of commercial property owners. Preservationists now want to acquire the Depot land in order to establish a national park along the lines of Valley Forge or Morristown. And it looks like local politicians have shifted their support as well with the expectation that owners will receive market value for the Depot land and preservationists will have their national park. A relative win win in the end for just about everyone.
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