The National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently held the first public meetings on the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Oak Ridge, TN (February 1), Hanford, WA (February 4), and Los Alamos, NM (February 8). A total of several hundred people attended these sessions and shared different perspectives on how the new park should be interpreted.
The meetings were the first chance for residents of the three communities to contribute their views since the park was officially established on November 10, 2015. Among other ideas, attendees suggested that the park should focus on the human stories of Manhattan Project participants. The park should also include stories of the people who were displaced to make room for the project sites.
Members of the public emphasized the important role of the Manhattan Project in developing new technologies and its legacy of peaceful uses. Others advocated that the complex legacies of the nuclear arms race, as well as environmental and health effects issues, should be part of the interpretation of the park.
NPS will integrate the public’s feedback, along with the contributions of the Manhattan Project Scholars’ Forum, into the park’s foundation document. This document will be developed this year, and will provide a baseline for park planning and interpretive activities.
Tracy Atkins, project manager and interim superintendent for the new park, has cautioned that the development of the new park will take time. The process of interpreting the park and determining access to historic sites operated by DOE, like the V-Site at Los Alamos and the Y-12 Plant at Oak Ridge, will likely take several years. Atkins has promised that there will be many other opportunities for the public to give feedback as the park develops.