Mammoth Cave National Park officials are moving ahead with plans for improvements at the Mammoth Cave Hotel.
National park officials have announced the type of improvements chosen for the hotel, which is currently managed by Forever Resorts, have not been found to have any significant effects on the human environment and that it is all right to proceed with the improvements.
The national park solicited written comments from those interested in proposed improvements to the national park’s lodging facilities included in a draft environmental assessment in December 2013.
The environmental assessment examined two alternatives in detail, addressing the environmental impacts of each alternative and identified the preferred alternative, according to a national park press release.
The preferred alternative for improvements to the hotel call for updating the utility and mechanical systems, as well as installing life / safety systems, at the Sunset Terrace Lodge portion of the hotel’s property; renovating the interior and exterior of the Sunset Terrace Lodge and improve landscaping; and removal of the Heritage Trail Wing section of the hotel.
A total of 32 comments were received from organizations, agencies and individuals regarding the draft environmental assessment.
“We carefully reviewed the comments received from the public,” said Sarah Craighead, superintendent of the national park, in a press release. “Overall, people were interested in some kind of change to the facility. Unfortunately, our budget is limited and we will do what we can. In the end, the practical solution is still Alternative B, which we presented as the preferred alternative in the environmental assessment.”
Vickie Carson, public information officer for the national park, said in an e-mail that the improvements will meet current visitor needs, provide the concessioner an opportunity to profit and result in the best value to the government.
“The park is using $3.4 million in NPS [national park service] funding as a working budget to address [the improvements],” she said in the e-mail. “The environmental assessment also examined the possibility of making structural changes to the hotel lodge, improving landscaping, green space, exterior plazas, sidewalks and parking. These items are not funded at this time.”
As for the next step, planning and construction documents will be prepared by an architectural and engineering firm for all the work that is funded, she said.
“The work will be done in the off season to minimize disruption of visitor services,” Carson said in the e-mail. “We are also developing the contract documents now for rebidding the concessions contract. There will be a 90-day bid period in early 2015, and the new contract will take effect in January 2016. We are very appreciative that Forever Resorts has agreed to continue managing Mammoth Cave Hotel for the next two years, until the new contract is in place.”
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