Army closed Seward resort in wake of attacks

Posted: Monday, October 15, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Citing last month's terrorist attacks, the Army has indefinitely closed a popular resort in Seward that each year attracts tens of thousands of servicemen on leave.

The decision to shut the Seward Army Resort stemmed from question of how best to use the Army's manpower.

The resort began offering snowmachine, snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals three years ago, and its winter popularity has doubled every year since.

But the recent attacks have put that growth on hold. The motel and town house complex just outside downtown Seward won't be open for the foreseeable future, at least until spring, said Chuck Canterbury, an Alaska Army spokesman.

A staff of up to four soldiers and 19 civilians kept the place running in winter. With the military on high alert, those men and women are needed elsewhere in the state, Canterbury said.

''The (Alaska Army) command is still here to train,'' he told the Anchorage Daily News. ''To take away from that effort at this time is not in the best interest of completing our mission.''

Even with the facility closed, nine nonmilitary employees remain at the resort, repairing boat engines, doing maintenance and taking summer reservations.

Since World War II, the resort has attracted active and retired military personnel from all branches and their families during summers. That's when the resort offers guided fishing for salmon and halibut from boats docked in Seward's small boat harbor.

It can employ as many as 22 servicemen and 70 civilians in the peak summer months. However, the staff rarely reaches that size, said John Curry, director of community activities for the resort's operator, Military Alaska.

Between 7,000 and 9,000 visitors take advantage of the resort each winter, resort officials said. The numbers swell to more than 50,000 during summer.

''We definitely want it reopened. There's no doubt about that,'' Curry said. ''Part of an assignment to Alaska is being able to take advantage of what Alaska has to offer. There's no place better to do that than down in Seward.''

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