Colonial, as the park is locally known, has $400 million in deferred maintenance backlog costs for work that has been delayed beyond a normal cycle for repairs. Without these funds, the park can’t repair the sagging floors, peeling paint and termite outbreaks in its historical structures.
Park Superintendent Kym Hall said historical structures like the ones at Colonial are significantly costlier to maintain than modern houses. Each part has to be custom-made and has fit historical standards.
Hall said the lack of maintenance does not only look bad, but can cause public safety hazards, forcing the park to shut down historical structures. One of her priorities is to reopen these buildings so the public can view them.
“Ultimately, [the park] is not just for preserving, it’s for connecting people to that piece of history,” Hall said. “If we could get into these buildings and get them touring around … it just kind of transports you to a different place in time and that’s what we want.”
A bipartisan bill to fund overdue park maintenance was recently introduced in the Senate, but it has not yet passed. A previous version of the bill passed the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, but died with the new Congress.
A sponsor of the bill, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., specifically mentioned the backlog at Colonial as one of his reasons for introducing this bill.
“We owe it to our Commonwealth and to our country to pass this bill,” he said. “This problem will only worsen if we fail to act.”