Obama’s Stimulus Plan Funds New Employee Housing in Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim

The National Park Service hopes to have more options for employee housing when six new RV sites are completed in the developed area of Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim. The project, slated to break ground in July, will expand the employee trailer court and upgrade utilities and access roads.

The current shortage of employee housing leads to crowded conditions and makes it difficult to attract seasonal employees and their families, according to the NPS. The new project could also significantly increase the number of volunteers the park can accommodate. Utility upgrades are also being planned to enable future expansions if and when more funding is available.

Six 300-square-foot external frame cabins from a complex built in 1929 will be demolished as part of the project, and parking and walkways around the cabins will be more formally established. The 81-year-old facility includes 20 more cabins, a laundry facility, and a shower building. Fifteen of the cabins have been rehabilitated since 2003 with new electrical, water, and sewer infrastructure, and five more are due for improvements in the near future. The six cabins scheduled to be torn down have deteriorated beyond reasonable repair

Ridgeway Valley Enterprises, LLC, of Montrose, Colorado, was awarded the $292,000 design/build contract, which was funded through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), popularly known as President Obama’s stimulus plan. Park officials say that not only will the project add necessary seasonal employee housing, it will also create additional jobs in the southwest for the construction company and help the local service industries that will support them during the construction process.

Passed in early 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated $3 billion to the Department of the Interior. The NPS received $750 million of that amount, approximately $10 million of which was earmarked for Grand Canyon National Park.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar touted the act, saying that it allowed the department and its bureaus to “[put] people to work today to make improvements that will benefit the environment and the region for many years to come.” As part of Secretary Salazar’s pledge for increased transparency, the public can follow the progress of ARRA projects online atwww.interior.gov/recovery. Projects that directly impact Grand Canyon National Park are reported on at www.nps.gov/grca/parkmgmt/arra.htm.

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