By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Five years after the opening of the historic President’s House near the Liberty Bell, the Nutter Administration is moving ahead with plans to turn over control of the problem-plagued site to the National Park Service.
The President’s House display in the historic district marks the site of the home and workplace for both George Washington and John Adams — and the home to some of Washington’s slaves. The display opened in late 2010 and has been troubled from the start — with constant leak and condensations issues, and problems with video displays. Now the Nutter Administration is moving ahead with the original plan — to turn the site over the National Park Service.
“We’re still in negotiations with the Park Service. We believe we’re on the right path and hope to have the transaction done shortly,” says the mayor’s Chief of Staff, Everett Gillison. “We want to make sure that the Park Service is satisfied. And also we want to make sure the citizens of Philadelphia are proud of what we’ve done.”
Gillison hopes legal issues are resolved and expects the President’s House site to be transferred before the mayor leaves office at year’s end. But some structural issues, he admits, will remain.
“We still have some issues that we’re doing with remaining cracks that have to be repaired,” Gillison says. It’s been up and running for five years, but we still want to make sure that when we turn it over to them, that they understand what they’ve been dealing with — and they can maintain it.”
The transfer of control will mark the end of what has been a long-running headache for the city.
“I keep reminding everyone that this started with the Street Administration,” says Gillison. “And as we (the Nutter Administration) comes to a close eight years later, we’re going to try to make sure that everything that was promised by the mayor back then is dealt with.”
And he says no one should be surprised that the venue encountered problems.
“Not everything is going to go precisely, 24-hours a day, without any hiccups. You have to maintain it,” Gillison says. “The Park Service, I think, understands that, and that’s why we’re getting to a good meeting of the minds going forward.”
The site encountered controversy even before its construction, when the Park Service’s initial hesitancy to include the history of the slaves that lived at the President’s House prompted protests.