Gillibrand takes first step to make Fort Ontario in Oswego a national park

By Mark Weiner | mweiner@syracuse.com 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Supporters of a plan to designate Fort Ontario in Oswego as a national park received a boost Monday when U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation backing the idea.

Gillibrand, D-N.Y., wants the National Park Service to study whether Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum should become part of the national park system.

Her bill is a Senate companion to one that U.S. Reps. John Katko, R-Camillus and Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, introduced in the House in December.

Gillibrand and Katko say they want to preserve the 260-year-old fort while making the historic site along Lake Ontario into a national tourist attraction.

The senator said it’s important to give national recognition to a site “capturing 260 years of history dating back to Colonial times, to being the only refugee shelter to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in the United States.”

The Safe Haven museum tells the story of the 982 refugees who were temporarily housed at Fort Ontario during World War II.