ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – Between the government shutdown and the September floods the town of Estes Park is teetering on a financial edge.
The problems have prompted Mayor Bill Pinkham and Town Administrator Frank Lancaster to send a letter to Colorado’s congressional delegation asking them to end the shutdown and reopen Rocky Mountain National Park.
“Right about now the shops would be open and people would be coming in and out and people would also be headed to restaurants,” said Pinkham.
He said the darkened store fronts and closed signs posted in the windows have never happened at this time of the year when its peak season for viewing the changing colors of fall.
“Some people that I’ve met here have actually cancelled their vacations that they are planning to have because they thought the town was totally out of business,” said Pinkham.
Gov. John Hickenlooper was scheduled to meet with local elected leaders in Estes Park on Wednesday to discuss the situation.
The letter says the struggling town is in a dire situation with tourism cut off and it’s caused layoffs and business closures.
“After suffering a major blow to our infrastructure and recovering from the recent floods, the current government shutdown is having a devastating impact on the Town of Estes Park, its citizens, businesses, and visitors.
“As you know, our economy relies heavily on tourism and our proximity to the national park. Attracting visitors after the flood has already become a challenge because access to the Town by Highways 34 and 36 has been cut off. The federal government shutdown has now cut off tourism, and the lifeblood of our economy, causing business closures and increasing unemployment. Our struggling town is now in a dire situation.
“We appreciate your efforts on our behalf and urge you to use your leadership to resolve the spending bill issues and get the federal government restarted as soon as possible.”
Lancaster further explained, “I’ve heard requests for the town, other agencies, and even volunteer groups to reopen the national park during the shutdown.” He continued, “We need Congress to act, because by law, the only way to reopen Rocky Mountain National Park is for the shutdown to end.”
Scott Webermeier runs the family business in Estes Park that includes a gas station, market, gift shop and restaurant.
“The last three weeks would have been peak season and at this stage in the game we would have been a full house,” said Weber. “I’m down 70 percent, I’m down about $300,000 in sales.”
Colorado Floods: How To Help
The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.