Parkway Inn, Inc, the Concessioner operating the Pisgah Inn has decided to remain open notwithstanding the federal government partial shutdown. All visitor services including the hotel, the restaurant and the retail operation will operate as normal in order to protect the health and safety of visitors to the area as well as to protect the park environment.
Bruce O’Connell, the concessioner has cited the following reasons for his decision to continue operations….
1. The Blue Ridge Parkway is NOT BEING CLOSED to visitors, thus there will be travelers in need of services.
2. The Pisgah Inn’s contract states that our services are “necessary” and “should be provided” to any members of the public visiting the area.
3. The Pisgah Inn operations are supported by revenues received from visitors, not federal funds, and those operations are conducted by a private company which allows us to continue operating even though federal funding for the National Park Service itself has been partially suspended.
4. Transylvania and Haywood Counties ensure Fire, Sheriff and EMT protection, thus further protecting visitors’ health and safety. These organizations are still operating.
5. We provide restroom facilities for travelers on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and defacation in the park will be an environmental hazard (no sanitary facilities) that could harm the resources. Our facilities will help prevent this from occurring.
6. Safety and security for the visitors are of paramount concern. The open parkway has various facilities and services in place to ensure the safety and security of the visitors traveling the road (the Blue Ridge Parkway). Pisgah Inn is part of that system.
7. We in no way wish to belittle our President or our Congress. We in no way mean any disrespect to the National Park Service. This is a matter of safety and security for the public as well as protection of the Park environment. Our mission and mandate require us to take this action, and our private funding allows us to do so.
Under my contract, NPS has the authority to suspend operations “to protect area visitors” or “protect the resource.” However, also under my contract, Pisgah Inn also has an obligation to protect area visitors and the resources. Well, in this case, Pisgah Inn, our Transylvania/Haywood County Sherrif, Fire, and EMT personnel and the National Park Service staff which remains on duty will assume those duties.
We will remain open until such time as the Parkway is gated closed and there are no visitors to assist, or until such time as we are forced to close. However, we believe closing our operations down is a disservice to the public and also increases the risk of harm to the visitors and the resources.