Dormitory Construction Planned at Glacier

By Beacon Staff

WEST GLACIER – A two-story dormitory for about 40 seasonal workers at Glacier National Park will be built near the park’s Lake McDonald Lodge, with construction set to begin this month and end by the summer, the National Park Service said Monday.

Concessionaire Glacier Park Inc. will pay for the project in a contract with Swank Enterprises.

The dormitory will replace housing in three other buildings, which will be removed once the new structure is in place, the Park Service said. Automobile parking is planned where those buildings now stand.

“The buildings to be replaced lie in the flood zone of Snyder Creek and have significant life-health issues,” said Chas Cartwright, the Glacier superintendent. The buildings also have inadequate utility systems, Cartwright said.

“Rather than put additional funds toward rehabilitating these structures and the utility systems within the flood zone, the decision was made to relocate the housing into a new structure away from the flood area,” Cartwright said.

Park officials said the new dormitory will be compatible with the architecture of Lake McDonald Lodge, which has a National Historic Landmark designation. The lodge, which opened in 1914, features a Swiss-chalet look.

Each room in the new dormitory will be designed for two people and will have a private bathroom.

The quality of employee housing at Lake McDonald hindered staff retention, said Alicia Thompson, a spokeswoman for Glacier Park Inc.

Traditionally, national park jobs have drawn college students, but in recent years a number of park concessionaires have found older people interested in work, as well. The room plan in the new dormitory will increase Lake McDonald’s appeal as a work site for couples, Thompson said.

She said she did not know the size of the contract with Swank and was awaiting that information from a manager on Monday. Asked about the contract’s sum, the Park Service referred the question to Thompson.

Glacier Park Inc. operates five lodges in Glacier and one at East Glacier just outside the park. The company also operates the Prince of Wales Hotel in Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park, next to Glacier.

The company employs about 950 seasonal workers, Thompson said.