Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jackson Visitor Center - Final Weekend to Visit!

Yup, the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center (JVC), whose design has been loved, hated, and debated since its opening in 1966, will welcome its last visitor on Sunday, September 28. It is closing to prepare for the demolition and move to the new JVC, which will open at 10:00 a.m. on October 10th. Between September 29th and October 9th, the Paradise Ranger Station (in the upper lot) will serve as the main NPS contact point at Paradise.

Here's some background on the now infamous "space saucer" of Paradise. The NPS commissioned its construction as part of a 10-year effort called MISSION 66. MISSION 66 set out to improve infrastructure and visitor services for NPS in time for its 50th anniversary in, guess what, 1966. The Paradise visitor center was originally known as the "Paradise Day Use Facility" until 1987, when it was re-named in honor of Washington Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson. "Scoop" had originally secured congressional funding for the project and personally selected the architects.

The future of the oldJVC is significantly less promising. With the initiative to build a new visitor center came the $880,000 contract to demolish the JVC and rehabilitate the lower parking lot. Sometime late next year, you should be able to park your vehicle near the current information desk or bookstore. If the weather holds, this fall the contractor intends to start salvage operations of reusable materials and also carry out removal of fuel tank and hazardous materials. Final demolition will begin in the late spring of 2009 and will be completed by the end of the summer.

NOTE: If you're visiting the park this weekend, September 27 and 28, there are no entrance fees. The NPS is waiving fees on Saturday in celebration of National Public Lands Day and on Sunday in honor of newly naturalized United States citizens. The JVC at Paradise will be open from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. through Sunday the 28th. Come on by, because it's your last chance to lounge in those creamy orange couches and chairs.