CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Planning and Development at Rim Village: 1886 – present G. False Starts and Potential Resolution: 1978-1988

Crater Lake National Park: Administrative History by Harlan D. Unrau and Stephen Mark, 1987

 CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Planning and Development at Rim Village: 1886 – present
G. False Starts and Potential Resolution: 1978-1988

At Rim Village, the GMP may have created more problems than it solved. Its cursory treatment of the Crater Lake Lodge was one reason why the NPS eventually found itself entangled with provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act. The agency’s proposed resolution of the redevelopment problem was politically expedient and was aimed at using the support for a rehabilitated lodge to construct a visitor center within a new hotel. In doing this, however, the NPS committed itself to a multi-million dollar effort that was dependent upon at least ten years of discretionary Congressional funding for special construction projects.

Not long after the GMP was completed, the question of whether the lodge could be maintained as first class public accommodations (as specified in the GMP) was laid open to scrutiny. In March 1978, Superintendent Frank Betts requested that a structural engineer make an inspection of the lodge. [94] No immediate action was taken, but an electrical inspection of the lodge was made in May 1979 by personnel from the Denver Service Center (an entity which arose from the eastern and western offices of design and construction being consolidated in 1971). The inspection was followed by a preliminary report on fire safety and structural stability of the building in October 1979.[95] Another inspection in January 1980 estimated that over $2.4 million would be required to correct life safety and structural deficiencies in the lodge. This report also pointed out that the NPS still had no maintenance agreement with the concessioner concerning the building. [96]

The lack of fire safety measures in the lodge was the subject of a Government Accounting Office report released in November 1980. [97] The report stressed that extensive renovation was needed if the building were to continue as public accommodations. Since the GMP stated that the lodge could be removed at the end of its useful life, there was some question whether renovation efforts should proceed, given that overnight stays in the lodge had fallen by 33 percent from 1977 to 1979. [98] The NPS held public meetings on the fate of the lodge in Klamath Falls, Medford, and Salem, from December 9 to 11, 1980. [99] Four options with cost estimates were presented by the agency, with public sentiment generally favoring retention of the lodge.

Concurrent with the public meetings, NPS personnel in the Pacific Northwest Regional Office in Seattle revised and submitted a National Register nomination form on the lodge to the State Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation. The nomination was approved and forwarded to Washington, D.C. where the lodge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 5, 1981. [100] Placement on the National Register, the public’s desire for continued use of the lodge, and the GMP as approved, were the main factors in the move toward total rehabilitation of the building. The regional office prepared a Development/Study Package Proposal in the spring of 1981, so that a task directive for Denver Service Center work could be approved. [101] Operating under Package 220, the NPS financed interim improvements to the lodge and initiated a historic structure report to guide the rehabilitation efforts. [102]

The rehabilitation work was scheduled to begin at the close of the 1982 operating season. The Historic Structure Report, however, found that the construction cost for stabilization and rehabilitation of the lodge would exceed $6 million. Besides the cost of the work, concern about slope deterioration undermining the foundation of the lodge was a factor in the Denver Service Center’s recommendation of a “no go” decision on the project as requested in the 1982 construction budget. [103] The rehabilitation project was tabled and an amendment to the GMP was pursued. In the interim, fire and life safety work continued so that the lodge could remain in operation on a year-to-year basis. [104]

The feasibility of providing winter lodging in the park had been indicated by studies made in 1980 and 1983, though no major shift in the seasonality of visitation or average length of stay in the park was anticipated. [105] An amendment to the GMP was to resolve the lodging issue in the form of an action plan. As outlined in the Planning Process Guideline (often referred to as NPS-2) action plans were to be prepared as sequels to the approved GMP for large parks where the level of detail in the GMP is inadequate to allow execution of particular programs. [106] When detailed guidance for anticipated park development is needed, an action plan is prepared and is called a development concept plan (DCP).