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Mr. HANSON. No, sir; I don't want to say that. I say that the National Park Service auditors told me that they were unable to determine from the records that were made available to them the patronage.
Mr. BARTLETT. Let's put it this way, Mr. Hanson. How did the patronage this year compare with last year for which complete figures were available? What I am trying to do is discover if suspension of passenger boat service has hurt tourist travel to the park.
Mr. HANSON. I can't give you exact figures. I know it has hurt the park. From the short period of time we operated last fall and the same period this year, from August 25 this year to September 12, there was a decrease in the patronage of the hotel here.
Mr. BARTLETT. And you attribute that to the fact that passenger ships were not operating?
Mr. HANSON. Not entirely, but I think it is a factor.
Mr. ABBOTT. I believe in the brief tour of the facilities here you pointed to some amusement equipment, some ski equipment and so on, that I believe you said had been attached or was in receivership.
Mr. HANSON. There are a number of pieces of equipment that were the property of McKinley Park Services, Inc., who went into receivership last fall. To this date none of that equipment has been removed.
Mr. O'BRIEN. What is the average stay by a visitor here?
Mr. HANSON. Approximately 2 days. We have some people who stay a week or 2 weeks.
Mr. ABBOTT. How does the average visitor arrive here?
Mr. HANSON. The average visitor arrives here by train. That is the primary means of transportation at the present time. A few of them come in by small plane at a landing strip nearby. The majority of them come by railroad.
Mr. BARTLETT. When the road is completed would you expect that to make much difference in attendance here?
Mr. HANSON. Considerably.
Mr. ABBOTT. Have you then closed your books for the operating season as of September 15?
Mr. HANSON. Our books will not be closed until the close of October. We have closed to the general public as of September 15, but the books will not be closed until October 1, which will cover closing costs, salaries of employees, insurance, fuel, and so forth in order to carry on the facilities.
Mr. ABBOTT. Could you describe the past season's operations in terms of visitation, in terms of dollars and cents?
Mr. HANSON. In dollars and cents the gross revenue derived from serving the public here was approximately $102,000, and it would be my guess that the net loss to the Federal Government for this season will be approximately $5,000.
Mr. ABBOTT. About $5,000?
Mr. HANSON. For the period from the middle of May when we started preparing for the opening of the hotel through July 31, we had a loss of approximately $3,300. We recouped part of that in the month of August, and the expenses in September, we tried to keep those down to a point where I think right around $5,000 will cover the amount.
Mr. ABBOTT. Is there any particular reason-after the end of July— why you were able to regain earlier net losses or is that the normal visitation cycle here?
Mr. HANSON. I am not sure it is the normal visitation cycle, but there are a number of repair items and a number of expenses in opening up that only occur once.
Mr. ABBOTT. Are you acquainted with the operating costs of the standby_maintenance facility here during the noncontract season?
Mr. HANSON. I believe the National Park Service representative would be able to give you a better idea of that than I would. Mr. JACOBS. Approximately $60,000 last year.
Mr. ABBOTT. For a 9-month period?
Mr. JACOBS. Yes.
Mr. ABBOTT. And what is the bulk of that expense?
Mr. JACOBS. Maintaining heat in the building.
Mr. ABBOTT. Could you describe the utility setup here, to include heat?
Mr. JACOBS. It has been a coal-fired steam heating system and is presently that, and it takes a minimum of five men working continuously at that, plus the expense of coal and all of the other utility items.
Now we have an item of $57,000 that we are converting or we hope to convert if we can get the materials here this fall before the freezeup, and it is going to be converted to a vapor heat recovery system. In other words, they are diesel Caterpillar powerplants, and we are going to utilize the heat from those for hot water, and the engineers tell us we will save approximately twenty to thirty thousand dollars annually on the heat bill.
Mr. ABBOTT. You say that you have that item. Has that been approved in the appropriation made available?
Mr. JACOBS. No, sir; that came out of emergency funds, out of the reserve. It came from the Director's Office and from region 4 reserve funds. There has been no appropriation.
Mr. ABBOTT. And you state the conversion cost will be in the neighborhood of $57,000?
Mr. JACOBS. We have $57,000 to do it with. We hope we will do it with that and believe we can.
Mr. ABBOTT. From your statement, in effect, that would pay for itself in 3 or 4 years of heating?
Mr. JACOBS. It would.
Mrs. PFOST. Is it because of the extreme cold weather that you cannot drain your pipes, or is it lack of drainage?
Mr. JACOBS. Yes, ma'am, it is the extreme cold weather. They have in the past let heat out of the building, but in the spring the overall rehabilitation has been more than it would be to keep heat in it. The permafrost walks around and settles and goes sideways and settles in the basement. That is the perpetual problem here in Alaska.
Mr. ABBOTT. Do you happen to know the initial cost of the facility here?
Mr. JACOBS. Roughly it is $400,000 equipped.
Mr. ABBOTT. And would you have any idea what has been put into it since?
Mr. JACOBS. I am sorry. I could not say. I just couldn't even give you a horseback figure, but I certainly think that would be that much since then.
Mr. ABBOTT. Do you have any judgment as to the suitability of this type of construction for the temperature and climate you have here?
Mr. JACOBS. You can see now probably why I asked Mr. Prasal to give the history of the park and Mr. Hanson. I have been here 2 weeks. I am a Johnny-come-lately. Certainly my judgment would not be expert.
Mr. ABBOTT. Do either of you gentlemen, Mr. Prasal or Mr. Hanson, have any judgment as to the suitability of this type of construction for this area?
Mr. HANSON. I cannot necessarily be a judge, but since it has been operating since 1939 in my opinion it has served the public well during that period of time. I would think it served its purpose.
Mr. ABBOTT. What of the future with this facility here? Do you have any judgment as to that?
Mr. JACOBS. My judgment is it is all we have. We have to have it if McKinley is to continue to serve the public. There is nothing else here now.
Mr. ABBOTT. You have, of course, what sounds like a rather major current item of repair and improvement here. It appears that approximately $100,000 will go into the hotel in the next 365 days; that is, your normal maintenance and the conversion to which you referred from your coal to diesel. That must surely have been based on either what Mr. Hanson has indicated, that this is the facility, or that there is an intention to continue for some years.
Mr. JACOBS. Yes, I would certainly assume so. I don't believe, if we are successful in this heat-recovery system, that the general operating costs probably-they probably would be less than that this year if we are able to put this system in. They will probably be less. Of course now, the hotel is in sad need of general renovation. We need $100,000 to put this hotel back where it belongs.
Mr. ABBOTT. In addition to conversion costs?
Mr. JACOBS. Yes.
Mr. ABBOTT. In what form would that renovation be?
Mr. JACOBS. I can give you a quick rundown on it. It has been compiled by Mr. Hanson. It includes everything from upholstering of these chairs we are sitting in, the redoing of the rooms, a large number of maintenance items. It probably is too lengthy to read.
Mr. ABBOTT. Is it something you could make available so we might place it in the record?
Mr. JACOBS. Yes, I will give you a copy of it. I will just read the major items.
Sand and refinish floors, 28 rooms, $75 each, would be $2,100.
Repair ceiling, restroom; first floor, men's room, $50.
tile floors and so on in men's room, $200.
There are two pages of those items.
Mr. ABBOTT. There was some piping to which reference was made during the inspection tour. Is that a major item on that?
Mr. HANSON. That is not included in this item because the National Park Service, it is my understanding, has made request for the funds. to do that work. Isn't that right?
Mr. JACOBS. Yes, that should come out of the item we have with the $57,000.
Mr. O'BRIEN. As I understand it, when you expend this money for various items and a new heat system you think your operating costs will be reduced twenty-five or thirty thousand dollars a year.
Mr. JACOBS. Yes, sir.
Mr. O'BRIEN. And you believe if they open the road it will increase your volume of business here?
Mr. JACOBS. Yes.
Mr. O'BRIEN. But you have no idea how much?
Mr. JACOBS. No, sir; but I would say considerably.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Do you think it would wipe out that operating loss, that $5,000 you mentioned?
Mr. HANSON. For the summer season, yes, sir; I do. I think not only would it wipe out the loss but it would make the part accessible or available to the people of Alaska where they can bring their families by car.
Mrs. ProST. Do you keep the upstairs rooms heated all winter also? Mr. HANSON. All rooms have to be heated, the entire building. Mr. ABBOTT. To what temperature during the winter months? Mr. HANSON. I believe it is anticipated that they will try to hold it at 50°.
Mr. ABBOTT. What is your outside minimum temperature during the wintertime?
Mr. PRASAL. The coldest recorded here is minus 58.
Mr. ABBOTT. The average would be what-zero?
Mr. PRASAL. It would be about minus 15.
Mrs. PrOST. What is the reason that you have to keep the upper rooms heated? I can understand you have to keep your basement heated in order to keep the permafrost out of the basement itself, but what is the object in heating the upper rooms?
Mr. HANSON. I will attempt to answer that. I might correct myself in saying that the building was all right to serve its purpose, but the type of wall, which is a fiber wallboard, loose fiber wallboard, the moisture collects on these walls, and we have what is called hoarfrost on the walls. If that is permitted to stay on there or if it is permitted to form very long, then it permeates into that fiberboard and ruins the walls.
Mr. BARTLETT. To support what Mr. Hanson has said, I might inform the committee that the late Secretary of the Interior, generally a very mild-mannered man, had some very sulfuric remarks to make when he came here when the hotel was about to open in connection with its design and construction. I refer, of course, to Mr. Ickes.
Mr. ABBOTT. As to future plans, I believe the observation has been made that you cannot observe Mount McKinley from the hotel. Is that true?
Mr. HANSON. That is correct.
Mr. ABBOTT. Anticipating increased tourist usage and it appears that the curve is definitely up in Alaska-what is the proposal or what plans are under study with respect to getting people where they are near your principal attraction the mountain itself? I believe you mentioned Wonder Lake, which has been described as perhaps the center of what would be tourist activity. What is the proposal to supplement these facilities or perhaps to gradually replace these facilities?
Mr. JACOBS. I think I should qualify our problem and our expectation. McKinley Park has been locked away all of these years. Sud
denly it is going to be accessible to Alaska, Canada and the whole United States. That probably will come within 2 years. We are certainly on a new era here.
Mrs. ProST. That is due to additional roads?
Mr. JACOBS. Yes, ma'am. It is our job now and our responsibility and problem of being prepared for this opening, and this year there has been a good deal of road development, bridges on the road to Wonder Lake. There have been two new campgrounds developed for tourists, those who bring their own camping equipment, and it is intended if and when a suitable concessionnaire can be found to operate, he will develop cabins at Wonder Lake, lesser accommodations on the type you and I or anyone can go and rent a housekeeping cabin. That type of cabin, of course, would be drained in the fall and forgotten about until spring. It would be merely a frame building. That is a long-range plan.
Mrs. PFOST. How far is Wonder Lake?
Mr. JACOBS. 90 miles, right at the foot of Mount McKinley.
Mr. ABBOTT. How about access roads within the park? How many miles do you have?
Mr. JACOBS. We have 100 miles now, and of course when this road is completed in from Paxson and the road from Fairbanks by Healy, there will be a loop from Fairbanks through the park on back to Big Delta and Anchorage.
Mr. ABBOTT. Do you have many tourists who have their automobiles shipped up piggyback on the Alaska Railroad?
Mr. JACOBS. Quite a few, not many. From Fairbanks.
Mr. ABBOTT. And they take their cars off and tour the lake area and put them back on and return to Fairbanks?
Mr. JACOBS. Fairbanks; yes.
Mr. BARTLETT. It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that the showing reflecting a new loss of only around $5,000 is truly remarkable in view of the fact that the principal means of transportation for tourists was discontinued last year, and it seems to me it augurs very well for the future.
Would you not think, Mr. Hanson, after the public has readjusted itself to the fact that from now on into the indefinite future, or so it appears, they can come to Alaska over the Alaska Highway or by air there is liable to be an acceleration of the tourist movement to Alaska, when the adjustment period has been made in respect to cessation of steamship operation?
Mr. HANSON. I think any time you make an area accessible by automobile and I have nothing to fight against the steamship and airlines and so forth-but I think it is quite well known that people like to travel in their own automobiles, especially families, so they can stop when they want to and go when they want to, that tourist business anywhere will increase tremendously.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Is there any reason to believe from a conservative viewpoint that the operation of the hotel itself when open to the public can be put in the black? If you are only $5,000 in the red under the circumstances you face now, do you think that is correct?
Mr. HANSON. I would think so when the roads are open.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Then you believe with the program that you have in mind that the loss outside of the season, which is now $60,000, could be reduced to $30,000?