View Full Version : Gettysburg Tower Saga

05-01-2006, 09:43 AM
U.S. must pay $4 million for taking Gettysburg tower
Monday, May 01, 2006

The Associated Press

After years of legal wrangling, a federal judge has ordered the National Park Service to pay $4 million to the owners of an observation tower that once stood near Gettysburg National Military Park.

The federal government took the land by eminent domain in 2000 and demolished the steel structure as part of a campaign to restore the area to the way it looked during the Civil War.

"This is a tremendous relief for me, I don't even care about the money anymore," said landowner Hans Engrenn, 77, of New Oxford. "My wife and I could have had a lot of fun with that money 10 years ago. Now, we don't even buy green bananas."

U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo set the award at about $4,035,000 in a ruling in April after an appeals court ordered her to reconsider her previous $6.6 million ruling.

Government lawyers once argued the tower and its souvenir store were worth only $2.5 million. Appraisals on the tower varied between $3 million and $11.1 million.

Creator Thomas R. Ottenstein called the 393-foot National Tower, which opened in 1974 and afforded tourists an aerial view of the historic battlefield, a "classroom in the sky."

But historians and preservationists considered it an ugly modern intrusion, and started the campaign to have it removed. Mr. Ottenstein died a month after the demolition.

Judge Rambo's order calls for an arbitrator to split the award between the Engrenns and Overview Limited Partnership, which was principally owned by Mr. Ottenstein.

"We remain saddened and thunderstuck," said Mr. Ottenstein's lawyer, Irwin Aronson, who took the last ride to the top of the tower.

Mr. Engrenn, a Swedish immigrant, sees the long court fight as an indictment of the American judicial system.

"It's unfair that the government can do this do you constantly, constantly, constantly," he said. "It delays your life, so to speak."

To park Superintendent John Latschar, the case symbolizes his agency's uphill fight to preserve the historic battlefield.

"We're satisfied to have this chapter closed and pleased with the number of projects we've been able to complete on battlefield rehabilitation since we started it off with the tower demolition," Mr. Latschar said.


A bargain at twice the price, but no one asked me.