Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI)
|Agency:||Department of the Interior|
|Level of Government:||Federal|
|Posted Date:||Feb 8, 2019|
|Due Date:||Mar 8, 2019|
Feb 08, 20191:04 pm
This Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) is not intended as a formal offering for the award of any legal authorization. Participants should not assume they will receive any preference in connection with any future solicitation should they choose to submit materials in response to this RFEI. The National Park Service (NPS) reserves the right, at its sole discretion to withdraw or discontinue the RFEI in whole or in part; use the ideas or materials submitted in response to this RFEI in any manner deemed to be in the best interests of the NPS, including, but not limited to, the undertaking of the prescribed work in a manner other than that which is set forth herein. The NPS likewise reserves the right, at any time, to change any components, concepts or approaches of the RFEI. All costs associated with responding to the RFEI are the sole responsibility of the respondent and any such costs shall not be reimbursed by the NPS. Materials submitted to NPS in connection with this RFEI will not be returned.
The NPS is soliciting public interest and input on its proposed mobile food and beverage service at Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Expressions of Interest are due no later than the date included in the Submission Criteria section of this document.
TIMPANOGOS CAVE NATIONAL MONUMENT OVERVIEW
Established on October 14, 1922 by Presidential Proclamation 1640, Timpanogos Cave National Monument consists of 250 acres in the rugged American Fork Canyon within a 30-minute drive of more than 1 million residents of the rapidly growing southern Wasatch Front, equidistant from Salt Lake City 30 miles to the north and Provo to the south. State Route 92, also known as the Alpine Scenic Loop, runs through the park along the scenic American Fork River. The monument is surrounded by the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
The monument's primary attractions are Timpanogos, Hansen, and Middle Caves, connected by artificial tunnels blasted in the 1930s, and together referred to as the Timpanogos Cave System. The cave system runs along a fault zone roughly perpendicular to the nearby Wasatch Fault. The caves are well known for their diversity and coloration of speleothems, or cave formations, and unusual speleogenesis, or process of cave creation, involving rising hydrothermal waters mixing with colder groundwater at the water table to dissolve the limestone along these faults.
The caves are accessed only via a challenging 1.5-mile hike up a paved trail with a nearly 1,100-foot elevation gain. The zigzag trail passes through native ecosystems that vary with elevation, offering the opportunity to view a variety of wildflowers that grow beneath Douglas-fir, white fir, maple, and Gambel oak trees. Hikers are introduced to area geology while hiking past more than 200 million years of geologic time as they ascend the mountain passing many geologic layers. The winding, scenic route offers outstanding panoramic views of American Fork Canyon, the Wasatch Range, and Utah Valley. Many local residents visit the park to hike the steep cave trail for solely for exercise rather than cave tours. As of 2018, the park estimates an average of 200 fitness hikers daily. The majority use the trail during the cool early to mid-morning hours, but can be found on the trail at any time of day. There is no charge for this fitness hiking. The only park fees are for ranger-guided cave tours.
Visitor access to the caves is limited to ranger-guided cave tours, which are currently offered approximately 35 to 40 times daily throughout the summer season. The 55-minute cave tour is limited to 16 people and travels 0.5 mile along a surfaced, lighted route. Tours begin at the entrance to Hansen Cave, traveling through human-made tunnels to Middle Cave, then Timpanogos. The narrow passages and chambers reveal extraordinary cave features throughout the experience. The diversity of speleothems, including stalactites, draperies, and helicites in a variety of colors make the caves a memorable experience for visitors. The Great Heart of Timpanogos, a large stalactite, has long been a visitor favorite. While unseen, the cave environment contributes to the visitor experience with cool temperatures, high humidity, and occasionally the rarely seen, but ever present biodiversity of life forms in the caves.
Cave tour tickets are sold in up to 60 days in advance on-line, by phone, or in person. The majority of tickets are sold in advance, though a limited number are held back for same day sales. Weekends and holiday tours typically sell out well in advance, and even weekday tours frequently sell out early in June, July, and August.
In addition to the historic cave trail and the caves themselves, the monument maintains a visitor contact station, picnic areas, and a self-guided interpretive nature trail along the floor of the canyon.
The monument's mission is to preserve the cultural, natural, and scientific resources of the area, specifically the Timpanogos Cave System, while providing public use and enjoyment.
State Route 92 and the Swinging Bridge Picnic Area within the park are open to the public year-round, however cave tours, the cave trail, and the visitor center are typically open from mid-May until mid-October, depending upon weather, budget, and other park needs.
Overall visitation in American Fork Canyon is steadily increasing with the population and economic growth of the surrounding area in Northern Utah and Southern Salt Lake Counties. Currently, the US Forest Service estimates approximately 1.6 million recreation visits to the canyon and adjacent USFS lands annually. The majority of Forest visitors drive through the monument on State Route 92, immediately adjacent to the visitor center and cave trail parking lot.
On or about June 1, 2019, the park will open a new visitor center and a redesigned parking area, a long-awaited project that has been in the plans since early 1991 when the park's original visitor center and administrative offices burned down in an accidental electrical fire. The park seeks to enhance visitor enjoyment of the park and its resources, especially during peak periods from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, by providing visitors an opportunity to obtain food and beverages on site before or after their cave tour hike or other activity.
The park will not include a dedicated concession facility in the redesigned building, but will instead provide a dedicated location suitable for a mobile food / beverage concession in the redesigned parking area. A bookstore / gift shop operated by the non-profit Western National Parks Association will remain in the new visitor center facility.
Given the seasonal nature of this operation, the park believes that this service is best provided through an approach other than a dedicated "brick and mortar" facility and a concession contract. With the growing popularity of mobile "food trucks" in the local area, the park is very interested in exploring this approach to expand small business opportunities and provide enjoyable visitor services while maintaining flexibility and limit infrastructure investment.
The park anticipates managing this program with one or more Commercial Use Authorizations and working collaboratively with permittees to develop reasonable expectations for schedules, food and beverage offerings, allocation of space, etc.
The designated area will be highly visible, on the end of the center island of the parking lot, with a permanent RV-type power pedestal and a several adjacent picnic tables and trash receptacles. Water and sewer connections will not be provided.
A typical visit to the park lasts approximately 3.5 - 4 hours. The park suggests that visitors plan 1.5 hours for the hike up to the caves, about 1 hour in the caves themselves, and another hour to hike down, in addition to time spent parking, using the visitor center, etc. The parking lot capacity is 75 spaces.
The original facility included a small summer seasonal snack bar and gift shop, leased and operated under a NPS concession contract. This contract was terminated in 2016. In 2015, the concessioner reported gross receipts of approximately $131,007, with $45,203 in food and beverage sales and $85,804 in souvenirs.
The snack bar, which sold a variety of typical fast food items (e.g. hamburgers, hot dogs, soft serve ice cream, soda, etc.) saw most of its sales over the noon lunch hour, with limited sales earlier and later in the day.
In seeking Expressions of Interest, the NPS is also interested in input on the structure of the business opportunity of mobile food and beverage service The NPS may consider these recommendations when finalizing the terms of an authorization; the NPS will not evaluate the Expressions of Interest received. Submitting an Expression of Interest will not provide any future consideration should a subsequent Request for Proposal be advertised.
Expressions of Interest must include the following:
1. A cover letter expressing your interest including your name, company or organization, and contact information including email address
2. Concept: Provide input / recommendation on the following:
(a) Length of operating season
(b) Days and times of operation
(c) Types of food and beverages to provide
(d) Preferred allocation of space within the parking lot
(e) Ancillary services that could be provided in addition to food and beverages
(f) Other equipment desired to support or enhance the operation
(g) Marketing efforts and how the park can assist in these
(h) Any other ideas, recommendations, or conditions
3. Previous experience similar with mobile food and beverage services, if any
4. An indication of whether you would like the NPS to retain your contact information and notify you if a Request for Proposal is advertised
Please submit your response by 4:00pm MT on March 8, 2019 via email to Jim Ireland, Superintendent, Timpanogos Cave NM at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NPS will acknowledge your submission after receipt. Within 30 days of the submission date the NPS will provide a publically available description of the next steps in the process and notify all respondents by email.
Post Office Box 25287
Denver, Colorado 80225-0287
American Fork, Utah 84003
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