As war wages in Washington, local battlefield is closed

The federal government has been shut down since Oct. 2 and although most of Hanover County is not impacted, one Mechanicsville tourist attraction is affected by the closure.

A Civil War reenactor stands at attention at Cold Harbor Battlefield, now closed due to the federal government shutdown. (H-P file photo)

A Civil War reenactor stands at attention at Cold Harbor Battlefield, now closed due to the federal government shutdown. (H-P file photo)

Cold Harbor Battlefield Park has been closed since the federal government closed many of its offices in Washington D.C. as well as parks around the country.

Chief ranger and park service spokesperson Tom Mauch said all gates are shut and locked with “closed because of government shutdown” signs.

“[The employees] want to do their jobs and they want to come to work,” Mauch said. “They don’t want to be furloughed.”

Mauch said the only workers on site are those in the law enforcement division as well as one maintenance employee, who were deemed “essential.” All other staff members have been furloughed for an unknown amount of time. Mauch said many employees are anxious about when they’ll be able to get back to work.

About 100 people visit the park each day, which means the Mechanicsville battlefield has to deny those visitors access to the otherwise public attraction. Roughly 500 visitors stop in at all Richmond National Battlefield Parks attractions.

Any visitors hoping to see or walk around the battlefield are turned away by the park’s law enforcement staff.

Those who frequent the park not only are locals but also out of town guests. Mauch said this might have an economic impact on the surrounding area because those consumers are being turned away.

In addition to the bottom line, Mauch said there are educational and recreational impacts.

“Those coming out to learn more are not finding out those educational items,” Mauch said.

Many visitors also go to the park to jog, walk or bike the trails.

The battlefield park will remain closed until the government re-opens for business.

Posted on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 10:50 am