Conversion/Section 106

First Street Cemetery lies within the boundaries of Fort Fisher Park (see graphic below).  The park, originally designated Lake Brazos Recreation Park, was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a federal program administered by the National Park Service (click here for grant information).  Federal regulations specify that parks created with LWCF funding may not be converted to purposes other than outdoor recreation use without federal approval.  If a "conversion" is authorized, the park owner (the grant "sponsor") is required to develop a new park of equal market value, usefulness and location (click here for regulations).  In 1984 the City requested and obtained approval for a conversion of the portion of the park west of I-35.  The City provided Indian Springs Park as a replacement.  (Text continues below.)

In 2007 the City of Waco apparently violated LWCF regulations when, without federal authorization, it began construction of two new buildings and associated utilities in a portion of the park covering part of First Street Cemetery (click here and here for documentation).  As a result, the City will likely be required to develop a new park to replace all or part of the park.

Since the park was developed with federal funding and since the conversion requires federal authorization, federal laws pertaining to cultural resources must observed during the conversion process.  Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires that "historic properties" must be taken into account in federal "undertakings" such as the conversion (click
here for text of Section 106).  Historic properties are defined as cultural resources that are listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).  Section 106 does not provide absolute protection for historic properties; however, it does ensure that steps are taken to avoid or minimize adverse impacts to historic properties during federal undertakings. 

The Code of Federal Regulations, specifically 36CFR800, defines how federal agencies must meet the statutory responsibilities of Section 106 and specifies who may participate in the Section 106 process (click
here for text of 36CFR800).  According to 36CFR800: "The views of the public are essential to informed Federal decisionmaking in the Section 106 process...Certain individuals and organizations with a demonstrated interest in the undertaking may participate as consulting parties due to...their concern with the undertaking's effects on historic properties."  Any individual can submit a request to the National Park Service to be considered as a consulting party in the Section 106 process at Fort Fisher Park/First Street Cemetery by sending an email to (click here for sample letter).

First Street Cemetery is not listed on the NRHP, but it is
eligible.  Since the cemetery is eligible for the NRHP (i.e., a historic property), 36CFR800 requires consultation to mitigate adverse impacts.  A letter providing information relating to the eligibility of First Street Cemetery is available here.


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