safe-haven-buildingEfforts led by U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) to designate Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum as National Parks advanced on Tuesday.

The House of Representatives approved Katko’s Fort Ontario Study Act, H.R. 4204, which calls for a special resource study of Fort Ontario’s national significance and suitability required to receive National Park designation.

“Fort Ontario is a historic gem in our community,” Katko said. “The Fort has been involved in nearly every major American war from the French and Indian War to World War II. What’s more, it served as the nation’s only Emergency Refugee Camp, providing shelter to over 980 refugees fleeing the Holocaust. Today, Fort Ontario and Safe Haven draw visitors from across the country. Like so many in our community, I am incredibly proud to have this piece of history in our backyard, and I’m grateful for the local champions who have worked tirelessly to preserve the site.”

U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), a supporter of the bill, said that he was pleased that the House had authorized the study to determine if Fort Ontario should be added to the National Parks System.

“It is important to recognize our historical assets and to do so in a way that promotes and encourages tourism for our region,” Hanna said. “I look forward to the results of this comprehensive study to determine how to best preserve and protect Fort Ontario.”

Jeffrey Grimshaw, speaking on behalf of the Fort Ontario National Landmark Committee, thanked Katko for his “extraordinary work” to make the bill a reality.

“The impact of this bill in the City of Oswego, Oswego County, and Central New York will be historical,” Grimshaw said. “The honor that this will bring to the long list of souls pre-dating the founding of the United States is immeasurable.  The recognition of the value the refugee population contributed to the development of Oswego will be memorialized for generations to come.  This is all in addition to the tremendous economic impact that is promised with the sharing of our story with the entire world and placing Oswego on a list of places that must be experienced to understand the fabric of the American story.”