NC inn stays open, declares victory over shutdown
WAYNESVILLE (AP) — A private hotel and restaurant along the Blue Ridge Parkway has reopened its doors days after it was forced to close during the partial federal government shutdown because it leases a federal government building on federally owned land.
Bruce O’Connell says the U.S. Department of Interior agreed Wednesday to let him reopen the Pisgah Inn in exchange for dropping a legal complaint, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
O’Connell leases the 50-room building on federal land from the National Park Service. Park rangers began blocking the inn’s three entrances off the parkway Oct. 4 and stayed there over the weekend.
O’Connell initially said he would defy the Oct. 3 deadline to shut down, but then decided to close. He changed his mind again, however, and kept the 35-year-old business open through lunch on Oct. 4.
He eventually conceded, and said all of his guests were forced to leave later that day. On Oct. 5, conservative activists gathered outside the inn to protest its closure.
The 470-mile federal road that winds through the North Carolina and Virginia mountains remains open to traffic but National Park Service visitor centers, campgrounds, picnic areas and restrooms are shuttered because of the budget dispute on Capitol Hill.
The inn was booked solid last weekend and all guests were refunded their money, said O’Connell, who also said he has received much feedback on his situation.
“I’ve heard from liberals and I’ve heard from conservatives,” he said. “I’ve heard all of them, from everybody. They all have said the same thing, every one of them. Don’t give up. Fight tyranny. That tells me that if someone threw a match in the middle of the country it would explode right now.”
The inn will stay open until Nov. 1, its normal closing date.