Washington – A key House committee approved legislation Wednesday that would allow the National Park Service to move forward on plans to build the Coltsville National Historic Park in Hartford.
The bill that established the park on the site of Sam Colt’s factories and home was approved by Congress at the end of 2014.
Sponsored by Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, the bill required the owner of the factory complex to donate 10,000 square feet of space in the blue-domed East Armory to the National Park Service before the park to honor Sam and Elizabeth Colt could be established.
But the National Park Service determined the establishment of a visitor’s center, and displays of artifacts and exhibits that would tell Coltsville’s story would be better situated in two empty, dilapidated buildings adjacent to the East Armory because they are on street level and adjacent to parking. The buildings are known as The Foundry and The Forge.
So Larson sought to amend the Coltsville bill to allow the National Park Service to make the change.
Legislation that would do so was approved by the House Natural Resources Committee Wednesday, allowing the bill to move forward and greatly increasing its chances of final approval by Congress.
“This clarifying legislation will assist the Park Service in their efforts, and keep the momentum going towards establishing Connecticut’s newest national park,” Larson said. “Coltsville is rich with history that left a lasting impact on both our community and the country, and I am excited that more people will soon have a chance to explore the legacy of Sam and Elizabeth Colt in a new way.”
But there was a cost to committee approval of the latest Coltsville bill.
The GOP-controlled panel approved an amendment to the legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., that prohibits the establishment of buffer zones outside the park and requires the written consent of the owner of any private property before a transfer is made to the National Park Service to include that property in the park. The change would prevent the taking of property for the park by eminent domain.