Original design favored for Sperry Chalet rebuild

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A strong majority of public commenters want to see Sperry Chalet rebuilt within its original walls.

During a two-month period that closed Monday, the National Park Service received nearly 400 comments on four rebuilding options. Of those, 72 percent favored either rebuilding Sperry “as close as it was” before last summer’s fire, rebuilding it “in place, but modernized,” or something in between.

Much smaller percentages backed the other two options — an entirely new dormitory or seasonal camp — or suggested other possibilities, like returning the site to nature.

Later this month, the park service will set forth the options for the project, and indicate its preferred choice in a draft environmental assessment. It will be open for 15 days of public comment, and the agency aims to reach a final decision by mid-May.

The approval process has been dramatically sped up. A notice posted on the project’s website earlier this year said that an environmental assessment would be ready for comment by September.

Glacier said in a press release that it’s accelerating the schedule “in order to achieve additional stabilization before next winter. That stabilization includes additional seismic bracing and roofing.” The rebuilding has a target completion date of 2020.

According to park spokesperson Lauren Alley, the project’s design firm, Anderson Hallas Architects, is still preparing cost estimates for the different options. But funding is likely to come from multiple sources.

Alley recently told the Daily Inter Lake that Sperry had been insured for $1.2 million, a reimbursement currently being held by the Glacier National Park Conservancy.

Meanwhile, the Conservancy’s private fundraising effort has raised $212,600 from 995 donors, according to its database administrator, Kristine Marvin.

And during his March visit to Columbia Falls, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke remarked that he was willing to commit “whatever it takes” to the rebuilding effort, adding that “it should not be lack of funding, whatever the source, that creates drag in getting it done.”

Another public meeting will be scheduled once the environmental assessment has been released. For more information on the rebuilding, visit parkplanning.nps.gov/sperrychalet2018.

Reporter Patrick Reilly can be reached at preilly@dailyinterlake.com, or at 758-4407.

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