Historic Missouri town gets national park designation

STE. GENEVIEVE, Mo. - A city south of St. Louis is getting a national park designation.

The long-sought formation of the Ste. Genevieve National Historical Park was signed into law in March. The designation authorizes the National Park Service to acquire about 13 acres (5.3 hectares) for inclusion in the park, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .

Getting the designation was the culmination of decades of effort that local officials hope will bring more tourists to the small Mississippi River town where French houses date back centuries.

Congress ordered the U.S. Department of Interior in 2005 to study whether part of the city and county meet federal criteria to be included in the national park system. The 2010 study was supposed to take three years, but it wasn't until 2015 that the park service released its findings, declaring dozens of properties as historically significant and suitable for a park designation.

The park will likely open in a few years, and specifics about how it will function remain largely unknown.

"We want to see things happen at a fast pace, but I don't think you can do that, especially when you're dealing with the federal government," said Paul Hassler, the city's mayor. "There are things that have to be in place and it's going to take some time."

The original Ste. Genevieve was founded in the 1700s — the first permanent European settlement in what is now Missouri. The town is known for its historic colonial French architecture, and depends heavily on tourism for revenue.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com


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