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Springfield wants to keep Lincoln house open amid shutdowns

March 7, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Springfield officials have approved an ordinance that would allow the city spend up to $50,000 to keep Abraham Lincoln’s home open during a federal government shutdown.

The City Council unanimously passed the ordinance Tuesday, The State Journal-Register reported. It gives the city the option of using lodging taxes to keep the Abraham Lincoln Home National Historic Site open for about a month.

The ordinance doesn’t automatically trigger the transfer of funds should a shutdown occur, but gives the mayor the ability to authorize the donation, said city attorney Jim Zerkle.

The funds would allow the National Park Service to staff nine employees Tuesday through Sunday for a month, said Tim Good, the site’s superintendent. The funds would also allow the park to bring in additional staffers if there was an influx of tour groups or maintenance issues, he said.

Ald. Ralph Hanauer expressed concerns over giving the federal government money without the guarantee of being reimbursed.

“It’s not a good precedent to set,” he said.

Ald. Chuck Redpath said the expense would be worth it for the goodwill the city would be showing visitors.

“We want to be as inviting and welcoming as we can be for all our sites in Springfield,” Redpath said.

Many tourists were disappointed when the site closed during the partial government shutdown that started Dec. 22 and ended Jan. 25.

Other cities took similar steps during the recent shutdown to keep popular tourist sites open. Philadelphia’s tourism bureau, Visit Philadelphia, gave the National Park Service $32,000 to keep Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell open for three days.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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