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DELAWARE WATER GAP: WHY DID THE CLIFF PARK INN SHUT DOWN?
A couple of years ago I wrote, "Cliff Park Inn near Milford, Pennsylvania, has a rich history dating back to Colonial times -- check out that wide-plank floor -- with additions c.1820 by an uncle of Pres. James Buchanan. The nine-hole, wide-fairway golf course, completed in 1912, was the first on this planet owned by a woman (Annie R. Buchanan built it because women weren’t allowed on American courses). And the entire property is now part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreational Area...."
That was the good news, and there was more good news to come: manager-chef Stephanie Brown's sophisticated dining room, wildlife, the dramatic walk along the rim of a cliff overlooking the Delaware and its national park, etc. But now, I'm afraid, it's time to add the bad news.
National Park Service Budget
A few days Brown sent me and, perhaps, some other journalists, an email that included the followingl: "Cliff Park Inn has had to be closed due to severe damage to our 107-year-old roof and extensive flooding during and following hurricane Irene. As you know, the property is owned by the U.S. National Park Service and it was not in their budget to do the repairs or to allow me to do them (as this would mean that the rent they collect would be put toward the repairs instead of to their operating expenses).
"I closed the inn, restaurants and golf course as of the end of October. The damages and the resulting mold problems are so extensive to the inn and the food service facilities that the NPS does not think that the buildings will be able to be reopened and operational for several years if at all."
This closing is a blow to golfers, women, people who cherish historic places, and food lovers, not to mention the economy of Pike County. So is the Cliff Park Inn and its golf course down for the count? Hard to say. The Pocono Record reports, "Park officials said the National Park Service will seek proposals for a new tenant and operator that would run the historic inn and golf course for the public. Park officials also said they do not know when a new lease will be established or how the property would be run next year."
That's assuming it will be open next year, an assumption I seriously doubt. Aside from bureaucratic issues, there is a huge repair bill looming for anyone willing to take this on. And that brings us to a major question, a question that is not rhetorical, because it deserves serious consideration rather than knee-jerk responses:
We live in an era of tight budgets, both on the private and the government level. To what extent should we -- and institutions like the U.S. National Park Service -- invest resources to preserve landmarks like the Cliff Park Inn for future generations?