NATIONAL NEWS

Management issues at Oregon’s Crater Lake prompt feds to consider terminating concession contract

Feb 15, 2024, 11:22 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Years of management issues involving facility upkeep and staff at Oregon’s Crater Lake have prompted the federal government to consider terminating its contract with the national park’s concessionaire.

Crater Lake Hospitality, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Aramark, is contracted through 2030 to run concessions such as food and lodging. But the National Park Service’s Pacific West regional director, David Szymanski, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the agency will terminate its contract with the company unless it “shows cause as to why NPS should not do so.”

Szymanski did not specify a timeline of when that might happen and declined to comment on communications between the federal agency and the company, the news outlet reported. National Park Service guidelines require it to provide written notice to a concessioner when a termination is under consideration.

“Termination would be an extremely rare action, and one we don’t take lightly. But consistent failures to meet contract requirements led to our notice of intent to terminate this contract to protect visitors and park resources,” Szymanski told the news outlet. “If NPS terminates the contract, NPS would organize an orderly discontinuation of Crater Lake Hospitality’s operations at the park and work to transition to a short-term contract with another operator to minimize impacts to visitors.”

The comments came two months after Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden wrote to the National Park Service to highlight his “serious concerns” about Crater Lake Hospitality. In a public letter, he asked the federal agency to “take immediate action to prevent concessionaire mismanagement from continuing to threaten Crater Lake National Park, its visitors, or the employees who live and work there.”

In recent annual reviews, the National Park Service has slammed the concessionaire over poor facility upkeep, failure to complete maintenance projects and a lack of staff training. The reviews have also noted staff reports of sexual assault and harassment, and subpar living and working conditions.

Aramark did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment from The Associated Press.

Aramark signed a 10-year contract at Crater Lake in 2018, taking over from hospitality company Xanterra, which had operated there since 2002. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Aramark’s contract was extended to 2030.

According to National Park Service guidelines, the agency can terminate a contract with a concessionaire to protect visitors from unsanitary or hazardous conditions or to address a default of contract, among other reasons.

As The Oregonian/OregonLive reported, a concessionaire can be found in default for receiving an overall rating of “unsatisfactory” in one annual review or ratings of “marginal” in two consecutive reviews, according to the guidelines. At Crater Lake, Aramark received an “unsatisfactory” rating for 2023 and “marginal” ratings in 2022, 2021 and 2019.

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Management issues at Oregon’s Crater Lake prompt feds to consider terminating concession contract