The National Park Service (NPS) recently issued an environmental assessment (EA) to assess the potential impacts of constructing new lodging facilities to be built at Grand Canyon National Park and seeking the public’s input as to possible changes to that construction. The work involves demolishing six existing lodging buildings at the Maswik South lodging complex and building four new lodging buildings. The current concessioner, however, is already required to demolish the buildings under its concession contract which was issued in 2015 and spend a certain amount on constructing the replacement structures. Notwithstanding this existing contractual obligation and cap on the amounts to be spent on the new structures, NPS determined that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) required it to prepare an EA and seek potential changes to the construction before the work can be started.
In the EA, the NPS set out two alternatives, one of which is the ‘no action’ alternative required by law solely to serve as a benchmark to assess the impacts of the other alternatives. NPS only proposed one other alternative. Pursuant to that standard, the new buildings will meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards and contain 120 guest rooms with elevators in each building. The area at the site would also be reconstructed and reconfigured to accommodate the proposed layout and also improve the existing infrastructure, such as parking, roads, sidewalks, landscaping, and utilities; and improve vehicular and pedestrian circulation.
Comments on the proposed alternative are due by November 25, 2018. NPS does not state how the contract would be amended if NPS were to decide not to proceed with the rebuilding project required by the contract or proceed with a more expensive plan.