September 21, 2018
Press Release

OSWEGO, NEW YORK – Standing this morning at Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum, U.S. Rep. John Katko was joined by Oswego County advocates, elected officials, educators, students, and community members in celebrating passage of the Fort Ontario Study Act by both Houses of Congress.  

The Fort Ontario Study Act is bipartisan legislation Rep. Katko introduced and passed through the House in January 2017.  It has been among his top priorities in Congress, and puts Fort Ontario and Safe Haven on the path towards becoming a National Park.  Earlier this week, the measure passed the Senate.

“It was an incredible morning in Oswego County as we celebrated passage of the Fort Ontario Study Act, legislation which will put Fort Ontario and Safe Haven on the path towards becoming a National Park,” said Rep. John Katko. “This site is truly deserving of national recognition.  Fort Ontario was involved in nearly every American war from the French & Indian War through WWII and Safe Haven served as the only Emergency Refugee Camp during WWII, providing shelter to over 980 refugees fleeing the Holocaust.  I was honored to introduce and pass through the House this bipartisan measure, but it would not have been possible without the incredible support of the Oswego community.”

At today’s celebration, Safe Haven and Fort Ontario representatives, as well as Oswego elected officials, praised passage of the legislation and highlighted the tremendous impact for Oswego County.

Kevin Hill, President of the Board of Directors of Safe Haven stated, “I was very excited to hear of the Senate’s passage of the Fort Ontario Study Act.  This brings us one step closer to bringing Safe Haven and Fort Ontario into the National Park System, allowing us to better preserve and protect this important and unique historical asset.  I applaud Congressman Katko for his dedication and persistence throughout this process.  He has been a champion for Safe Haven for years and we are grateful for his continued support.”

"The Friends of Fort Ontario are very excited to learn of the passage of the Fort Ontario Study Act. This means that historic Fort Ontario may soon become one of the many National Historic Sites that represent America's heritage,” said Paul Foster, President of the Friends of Fort Ontario. “The Fort Ontario site has a long and varied history stretching from the French and Indian Wars up to and including World War II and the harboring holocaust refugees at Safe Haven in Oswego. We hope for the continued support to reach final acceptance as a National Historic Site."

“The passage of this legislation allows the Oswego community more opportunity to promote our historical assets and use those assets to boost local tourism, promote our community and share the unique history within the City of Oswego,” said City of Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow. “I applaud Congressman Katko for his dedication and effort towards passing this legislation and appreciate his focus on increasing tourism and stimulating our economy here in Oswego”  

Shane Broadwell, Chairman of the Oswego County Legislature said, “Oswego County is blessed with an abundance of natural and historic resources and the Fort Ontario military reservation is chief among them. Its role, over the last three centuries, in the history of America is unlike that of any other in the country.  I want to thank Congressman Katko and his colleagues in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate for recognizing the importance of our piece of American history.  We hope that President Trump will look favorably on this legislation as we look forward to working with Congressman Katko and others as the study progresses to the next important step.”

Rep. Katko was also joined today by several National Honor Society members from Oswego High School, who had launched a letter writing campaign in support of preserving Fort Ontario and Save Haven.