Despite more than $100,000 in houseboat rental deposits for the coming summer, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area has decided to close the Kettle Falls Marina on April 30, when its contract with Lake Roosevelt Vacations, Inc. ends.
The park says it wants to evaluate whether the services – boat slip rentals, houseboat rentals, fuel sales, and a small store, “all of which have been long-term conveniences for the visiting public” – are necessary at the northern end of the lake in eastern Washington.
“The National Park Service will take a fresh look at public needs and wants with regard to services for the area,” Superintendent Dan Foster said in a release. “We will evaluate the potential to attract future concessions and whether services offered in neighboring communities already satisfy the demands of our visitors. We regret the impact this will have on our visitors.”
The government solicited bids for a 10-year contract at Kettle Falls Marina beginning last May, but announced February 6 that it had canceled the prospectus. That was news to Ed Wimberly, the president of Lake Roosevelt Vacations, who wrote that he heard about the decision only after the park sent out a press release and that he has not received a response as to why his proposal was not accepted.
“This decision was totally unexpected and left me stunned,” Mr. Wimberly wrote in a letter to Laura Joss, director of the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region, a day after the announcement was made. “Just this past May, when it issued its Prospectus for proposals to operate at Kettle Falls Marina, the agency was touting the strong demand for these services. I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision for the sake of the hundreds of recreationists who make Kettle Falls Marina their choice for a great summer vacation, for the sake of the local business community which depends on these operations, and for the sake of public safety.”
Mr. Wimberly also wrote that he told Superintendent Foster in a letter dated January 23 that he had over $100,000 in deposits for houseboat rentals for the upcoming season. “Given this fact, I am perplexed as to why the National Park Service has now suddenly decided it needs to spend time and money to assess whether there is a demand for these recreational services,” he wrote in his letter to Ms. Joss.
Mr. Wimberly, who said that he is “fully prepared and willing to continue providing the recreational services,” pointed out that the local sheriff’s office feels that having fuel available at the marina is a matter of public safety, citing a 2015 letter from Stevens County Sheriff Kendle Allen.
The park is directing visitors who have reservations for services after April 30 to work with Lake Roosevelt Vacations for any applicable refunds.
While slip rentals and houseboat rentals will no longer be available at the Kettle Falls Marina, they will continue at Seven Bays, Keller Ferry, and the Spokane Tribe’s Two Rivers Marina. Purchase of fuel and other recreation sundries will need to be made in Kettle Falls, Colville, or Noisy Waters.