Greene to Honor Families Displaced by Shenandoah National Park - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Greene to Honor Families Displaced by Shenandoah National Park

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A new project in Greene County hopes to bring healing to what has been a touchy subject for many.

The county is spearheading efforts to pay tribute to the hundreds of families that were driven out of their homes during the creation of the Shenandoah National Park.

"When the park was created, their lives were turned upside down," said Bill Henry, member of the Greene County Tourism Advisory Board.

It's in the beginning phase, but the Dedication Project is moving forward, as a type of memorial to honor the sacrifice that was made - for some families by choice and for others by force.

"Over the many years, nothing has been done to recognize the contributions that these people have made to the park that we have to enjoy today," Henry said.

But now the project created by Greene County Economic Development hopes to bring awareness to what some call an untold story.

When land for the Shenandoah National Park was pieced together during the 1930s, it's estimated at least 500 families were displaced.

"There's been a lot of controversy about the process that was used to obtain the land and a lot of hard feelings on the part of the people that were removed, and so what we're looking at is trying to find a way to honor the sacrifices that these people have made," Henry said.

With community support, Henry is helping Greene create a memorial. The county held the first community meeting to ensure that people including descendants support it.

Greene is looking at land near Lydia Mountain, but there is another proposal on the table: that the eight counties that surround the park have memorials of their own.

"And then have all eight sites that surround the park be connected by a driving tour," Henry said.

Details such as design plans are a ways off, but for many, the discussion alone is a step toward healing.

"And so really the reason we have the park is because of what the families had to give up," Henry said.

There is currently no funding for the project, so there is no indication on how much this would cost. Some options being considered include grant money and community fundraising.

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