Reagan’s own philosophy puts his boyhood home in limbo

Budget dispute also stalls federal purchase

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The annual visitor season for the Dixon home lasts from April 1 through mid-November. Last year, Ms. Lange said, visitors came from 26 foreign countries and from every state except Vermont. She said website traffic suggests that Reagan remains highly popular in Poland and the Czech Republic.

“A lot of people from the Eastern European countries who fly into Chicago, if they’re going somewhere else here in the state, they’ll fly into Chicago, rent a car, drive the 12 miles out here, tour, go back to Chicago and then carry on their journey,” she said. “I think that’s a great tribute to Ronald Reagan.”

Mr. Hastert said he let the purchase plans drop after the foundation’s change of heart but is concerned about whether the foundation can sustain the home.

“Can they do that forever? That’s the question, and that’s why I had some interest in it in the first place,” Mr. Hastert said.

Ms. Lange said she has seen problems with government ownership when strained budgets forced Illinois to close some of its sites dedicated to former President Abraham Lincoln at the beginning of the Lincoln bicentennial celebration.

She said the foundation is aiming for sustainability. “We’re here, we accept responsibility. A lot of our efforts are focused on long-term viability,” she said.

The Park Service hasn’t committed to the property during the past decade and has asked Congress to authorize a study rather than seek a purchase deal.

Richard G. Ring, then the associate director for park operations, told lawmakers who were rushing the legislation through Congress that they were violating the rules that the GOP-controlled House and Senate had imposed on the Park Service just a few years earlier.

Those rules were designed to counter pressure to add questionable land to the government inventory, and to let the Park Service deal with its backlog of maintenance work for the properties already in its care.

But the law authorizing a purchase passed by voice vote in both chambers. Officials said the Park Service is still interested in acquiring the property but that no efforts have been made to negotiate a deal since 2002.

“We have authority to acquire it and we would like to acquire it if appropriations are there,” said Dwayne Prince, chief of the land resources division for the Park Service’s Midwest region.

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