Oct 08 2013

Shutdown Shenanigans: Businesses Closed, Seniors Displaced

ABC News

ABC News

The federal government shutdown doesn’t apply to just the government anymore. Communities and private business sitting on federal land have also found themselves without a job or, in some cases, without a home.

Pisgah Inn sits along the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC and is the only place to eat, sleep, or even use the bathroom for miles. It has operated on leased federal land since 1919, and was ordered to close on Thursday during the peak tourism season. Bruce O’Connell – the owner – has roughly 100 employees and decided to reopen at noon on Friday. He managed to stay open for a whole two hours before National Park Service rangers rushed to the scene, ordering him to cease and desist. Rangers blocked access to the inn completely with patrol cars and flashing lights, telling customers “the government is closed” though the parkway itself remains open. 35 of O’Connell’s employees live at the inn, and are also being forced to vacate the premises.

A spokeswoman for the Park Service, Dana Soehn, said in a statement that the closure was to “protect the facility and the resources.” However, all of O’Connell’s resources – including police and fire services – are provided locally. As of Monday, several park rangers were still parked outside.

Recreation Resource Management, Inc., a private company employing roughly 400-500 employees across 12 states, has also been forced to shut its doors. The company manages national parks and campgrounds and even pays rent to the Treasury – which means it is actually costing money to shut them down. Company president Warren Meyer estimates the closure is costing the Treasury “a few million dollars.” In a media statement, Meyer reported that his business, among others, was also being forced to pay for the barricades used to shut the parks and campgrounds. He questioned both the Park Service and the Department of Agriculture and was told the orders came directly from the White House.

The Park Service is also responsible for barring entry to open-air monuments. Other closures include Philadelphia’s City Tavern, self-staining Claude Moore Colonial Farm, businesses and beaches on Cape Cod, and private guided fishing trips in the Florida keys. All of the above businesses receive little to no federal funding, many are self-sufficient, and none were forced to close during previous shutdowns.

Lake Mead residents are also feeling the sting as they were told they need to vacate their homes due to the structures sitting on federal land. Ralph and Joy Spencer – ages 80 and 77, respectively – were given 24 hour notice and have been temporarily living in a motor home. The family’s ice cream shop was also forced to close, leaving the couple fearful at the loss of both home and income. Bob Hitchcock, another local, threatened to stay in his home; park rangers threatened him with arrest and federal court. The Spencers and Mr. Hitchcock are just two of approximately 60 families affected. Most of the displaced residents are elderly and retired. A spokeswoman for the Lake Mead Recreational Area claims that the homes are meant to be for vacation purposes only, and that overnights are currently forbidden. The community was largely unaffected during the shutdowns of 1995 and 1996.

Residents and business owners are furious that they have become victims of an administration trying to make a statement. Some Park Rangers have come forward, stating they’ve been told to harass people and “make life as difficult for people as we can.” Many states have offered to foot the bill of keeping their parks, communities, and businesses open, but Obama has refused. Since everything on or near federal land seems to be getting the boot, my question is this – isn’t Obama also housed on federal land?


  1. van

    Try for this Liberty. I live about 5 miles from the Pisgah INN and I am furious About this childish shit.

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