Grand Canyon National Park celebrated the completion of its $13.8-million maintenance complex Friday afternoon as park employees and local residents toured the 15 1/2-acre, five-building facility and enjoyed a barbecue.
Retired park official Bill Dennis and his wife look around in one of the new maintenance buildings Friday afternoon. Dennis, who now lives in Gilbert, worked in maintenance at Grand Canyon for 28 years.
“This is a really big day for us,” park deputy superintendent Kate Cannon said. “This facility has been needed for a long time.”
The project kicked off in April 2001 with the contract awarded to Beneco Enterprises out of Sandy, Utah. Site clearing began in September 2001 as the project took more than a year-and-a-half to complete. The complex is located down Shuttle Bus Road beyond the park’s helibase.
“This is the first major construction project in the National Park Service to utilize the design build process,” said John Beshears, chief of maintenance and engineering. “The contractor was selected on the basis of technical expertise and experience in addition to total cost.”
Design build projects are routine in the private sector but new in the government sector. Beshears said the process “allowed us to get the best value, not just the lowest bid.”
“They stayed on schedule and completed it within the budget,” Cannon said of Beneco, singling out the efforts of project manager Curtis Williams along with several others.
The maintenance complex features five buildings:
• Shop/office building — Features eight maintenance shops and 39 offices. 26,000 square feet. Houses facility management division, purchasing and contracting, housing branches of the administrative division and the project management team. Also includes maintenance shops for housing, buildings and custodial, signs, roads and utilities.
• Warehouse — Shipping and receiving facility for facility management and administrative divisions. 14,250 square feet. Also includes heated storage space for park’s warehouse and lost and found functions.
• Auto shop — Facility to maintain park’s equipment and vehicles. 10,100 square feet. For first time, alternative fuel vehicles can be serviced in park’s own facility. Includes automotive and heavy equipment bays, welding shop, pressure wash bay, parts storage areas and office space.
• Enclosed vehicle storage — Provides storage for maintenance vehicles and large equipment such as snow plows and cinder trucks that require storage at temperatures above freezing. 10,100 square feet. Features an in-floor hydronic heating system.
• Covered storage — Storage space for large maintenance vehicles that require less protection from the weather. 9,000 square feet.
Beshears said the project utilized sustainable construction techniques in several areas, ranging from window frames and insulation to the walls and roofs. All vegetation cleared from the site will be used in other projects. Steps were even taken to optimize air quality and reduce future building maintenance.
The need for such a complex was backed up by some impressive statistics offered by Beshears. The park operates more than 275 administrative and public-use buildings that encompass more than 400,000 square feet. The park also maintains about 300 housing units totaling 300,000 square feet and there are 101 miles of paved roads and 175 miles of unpaved roads to look after. And the park keeps up with 633 miles of trails on the rim and in the Canyon.
“We do good work; we do more with less people and a small overall budget than any major park in the National Park Service,” Beshears said. “I am extremely proud to be associated with this park and especially, this division.”
Once all park maintenance functions move into the complex, Xanterra Parks and Resorts will take over the old facilities. That is part of a plan to relocate Xanterra’s maintenance operation away from the rim and out of the historic district, which will eventually become the Heritage Education Campus.
Beshears estimated the park’s move would take a month.