Xenia city officials are excited about having the nation’s newest national park and monument, which they say could lead to the development of new ideas for the area.
The National Park Service held a series of meetings in Xenia earlier this week to get ideas for the Col. Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument and Park.
The monument honors Col. Young who was one of the first blacks to graduate from West Point, the highest ranking black officer serving in the army until his death in 1992 and the first black superintendent of a national park, according to the National Park Service.
“We are number 401,” Reginald Tiller, superintendent of the park said.
President Barack Obama named Col. Young’s house a national monument and the land surrounding it a national park on March 25.
“We are all just so excited for having the national park,” Mary Crockett, Xenia Development Coordinator said.
“If you have a national monument status you are bring people from all over the country if not the world” said Crockett. “This whole area has a really rich African American History and I am just blown away.” Xenia is excited and supportive of the public ideas. Crockett said the city would like to develop a bicycle path through the park, connect it to existing paths and encourage more people to bike.
Public ideas for the park also include developing a summer camp for children and teens, an area to listen to music, a place for school field trips and a place for all ages to learn.
Leon B. Badridge, said his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, which sold the house to the federal government, would like the park to have camp grounds for families, boy scouts, and girl scouts. Badridge traveled from South Carolina to meet with park officials Tuesday.
“The biggest thing would be to make Col. Young an image that all of us would be proud of,” Badridge said.
The process to create the park from scratch will be slow but the end product will be worth it said Sandra J. Washington, Associate Regional Director and Cultural Resources Manager for the park services. Washington and Tiller are leading the park and monument project.
The House, located at 1120 US Route 42 E in Xenia, was built while Col. Young was the park superintendent and a teacher at Wilberforce University.
“(Col. Charles Young) will be one of those stories that will be right there next to stories such as Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman that our youth will be able to latch on to and pass that on to future generations,” Tiller said.