The Prince William County Board of Supervisors, after months of refusal, has agreed to hold a public hearing on the proposed expansion of the Manassas National Battlefield Park.
"Let's have one gigantic blood-letting," said Supervisor Andrew J. Donnelly.
The hearing is set for 7:30 p.m. June 12, appropriately enough, at Stonewall Jackson High School. Jackson was dubbed "Stonewall" for his performance on the disputed battlefield.
Rep. Herbert E. Harris, (D-Va.) chief sponsor of the bill to expand the park from 3,000 acres to nearly 5,000, said, "I will be very glad to participate and hope that the hearing will resolve questions about the bill . . . It will be a chance to air the issues in public and clear up misconceptions."
The supervisors said they would conduct the hearing only if Harris agreed to attend.
The bill has passed the House but has been bottled up in commitee by Virginia's senators who have refused to support the expansion in the face of the county board's opposition.
The board still appears to oppose the park expansion - Supervisor James Byrd says he will refuse even to attend the hearing - but an airing of the bitterly disputed issue could lead to some compromise. A spokesman for Harris said, "He is willing to negotiate on it."
A spokesman for Sen. Harry F. Byrd (I-Va.) said Tuesday, "The senator still hopes the two sides can reach an agreement. "The Byrd spokesman said his office had received no notification of the public hearing and that "until we know more about it, we woould hesitate to say to what extent we would participate."