Grand Canyon, Ariz.
– The National Park Service (NPS) recently awarded a contract in the amount of
approximately $8.1 million to Watts/Weitz, a joint venture from Denver, Colorado
for the construction of eight, 8-plex apartments to be constructed on the South
Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
The apartments will be located in
an area off of Albright Street,
adjacent to the HoraceAlbrightTrainingCenter and will provide much needed
housing for Grand CanyonNational Park employees.
The project will include
construction of one and two-bedroom apartments (64 units), 96 parking spaces,
utility connections, sidewalks and landscaping, construction of an access road,
and the demolition and removal of several obsolete trailers units that
currently occupy the site.
Grand CanyonNational Park
has long suffered from inadequate employee housing. Housing needs were documented in the park's
1995 General Management Plan, as well as in a 2000 Housing Needs Assessment and
Local Area Analysis that were prepared by an independent contractor and demonstrated
a projected deficit of 211 units on the South Rim by 2002.
The NPS provides housing to
employees and essential cooperators that provide visitor services, including
emergency services and resource protection.
Over 560 people are employed by the NPS at Grand
Canyon, over 500 of which are year-round employees. There are currently 344 NPS housing units in
the park, some of which are occupied by dual-career couples.
To help reduce the need for in-park
housing, and in keeping with the park's GMP, the NPS opened an office in Flagstaff, Ariz.,
in 1995, where approximately 53 employees now work and live. The NPS continues to look for options to help
reduce in-park housing needs including moving more positions out of the park
that can be duty stationed in Flagstaff.
"We are very excited to be able to
provide these new units for our employees", stated Park Superintendent Steve
Martin. "It is a huge step in reducing our housing deficit and improving living
conditions in the park. The current
deficit affects the park's ability to meet critical mission needs, is often a
detriment to staff morale, and severely impacts our ability to recruit and
retain employees." Superintendent Martin
continued, "New permanent employees hired to work at Grand
Canyon often must agree to live in shared housing upon their
initial transfer to the park.
Unfortunately, shared housing does not accommodate spouses; children or
pets, so families often wait behind until a single family home becomes
available. In some cases…good candidates
decline the job."
The NPS plans to obtain the U.S.
Green Building Council's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification
for these units and is striving to obtain a Gold or Platinum rating. Construction
is expected to begin later this month and should be completed by next summer.