A bill that would authorize expansion of the 3,000-acre Manassas National Battlefield Park in Prince William County by 1,000 acres was reintroduced in Congress last week, three months after it was blocked in the Senate by Sen. William I. Scott (R-Va.).
In reintroducing the park expansion legislation, Rep. Herbert E. Harris II (D-Va.) said, "It was heartbreaking to see two years of work shot down by an eleventh-hour tactical move" at the end of the 94th Congress in October.
The Manassas Battlefield bill, which has among its sponsors six of Virginia's ten House members, is similar to last year's legislation except that it no longer would propose to include the Northern Virginia Community College's Manassas campus as part of the park property.
The bill would empower the Interior Department to purchase, acquire scenic easements on or condemn additional land for the park along Rte. 66 where there are strong pressures for commercial and residential development. The park acquisitions would be funded by Interior's Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Sen. Scott said last fall that he blocked the proposed Manassas Battlefield expansion at the urging of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, the Community College and several local landowners.
An aide to Scott said last week the Virginia senator is "reviewing the situation in the light of the revised bill and any comments that may be received by the Board of Supervisors and others."
The Prince William supervisors have not wanted to see the 1,000 acres lost to the county's tax rolls, favoring revenue-producing development in the area north of Rte. 66 and west of Bull Run to Rte. 705.
Last fall, after the park bill was defeated in the Senate, Gil Lecander, of the Prince William League for Natural Resources, said, "It's a clear case of commercial development winning out over historical and natural preservation."
Harris expressed hope last week that reintroduction of the bill early in the new two-year 95th Congress will greatly increase its chances of enactment. In October Scott was able to block the preceding bill merely by not agreeing to it being placed on the Senate's "unanimous consent" agenda.
Scott, who was in the Phillipines at the time and had not previously taken a position on the bill, said then that he had blocked it because there had been no hearing in the Senate and he was "concerned about unexplored issues."
Rep. Phillip Burton (D-Calif), chairman of the House Interior Committee's National Parks and Recreation Subcommittee, is another cosponsor of this year's bill. His backing increases the bill's prospects favorable House action.