Bedford Co., VA - Many people hit the Blue Ridge Parkway this time of year to look at the changing leaves. But another change has the National Park Service looking for someone to keep a popular landmark open.
The current contract to operate the Peaks of Otter Lodge expires November 25, and the deadline for proposals to run the lodge is Wednesday.
Bedford's tourism director is staying optimistic someone will come forward.
John Filipiak leads a tour group that visits every year from Virginia Beach.
"It's a great place. I can't imagine it not being here," said Filipiak. "This is the second time I've been here and first time, same thing. Very crowded."
Despite the peak season crowds ,the Virginia Peaks of Otter Company that currently operates the lodge, gift shop and restaurant has no interest in renewing its contract.
A temporary contract between the National Park Service and the Virginia Peaks of Otter Company has served as a bridge over the last couple of years keeping 58 workers on the job. But that contract is set to expire.
But beyond the employees...
"Well it certainly can affect us all, although there may be people who will come through the area on the parkway who will come into Bedford because there is no place to eat or to stay on the parkway," said Sergei Troubetzkoy, the tourism director for both Bedford city and county. "You get a very large number of visitors who come to Bedford by way of the parkway and the Peaks of Otter, so it's very, very important for this community."
It's been important since they rolled out the welcome mat for the first time... nearly 50 years ago.
Troubetzkoy says there are some interested parties, but we'll just have to wait and see if any of them submit a proposal that the park service will accept.