By Melinda Munson
A number of Skagwegians were excited when the newly erected Dyea Campground cabin was offered for rent at $50 per night. The dry cabin with no electricity was intended for a camp host, who has yet to be hired.
The municipality hoped by renting out the structure off-season, the borough could recoup some of the $92,213 it cost to construct the cabin kit and offer recreational opportunities to locals.
After concerns expressed by The Dyea Advisory Board (DAB) and the owners of the Chilkoot Trail Outpost, an operation that rents full amenity cabins, the municipality put the Dyea Cabin rental on hold.
“The planning and implementation of the Dyea Cabin has been ongoing since 2019, said Borough Manager Brad Ryan. “There has been extensive input on the construction and use of the cabin … While there has been a lengthy community process, the community’s desired use of the cabin continues to evolve.”
Kathy Hosford, who owns the Dyea outpost with her husband Fred, is worried the cabin located on the Dyea Campground will compete with her business, already faltering from the effects of COVID-19.
“We are fearful of the negative impacts and diminishing the value of our property,” she wrote in one of several letters to the assembly.
The Hosfords believe the borough moved forward with the cabin without following proper procedure.
“All private small businesses are in danger of failure if this competition is allowed to proceed without transparency and process which is clearly outlined in Skagway Municipal Code. This opens the door for government to bypass municipal code and law without going through a clear transparent process, a dangerous precedent to set,” they said.
Most of the correspondence to the assembly regarding the cabin supported renting the building when a caretaker was not present.
“The experience the Dyea Cabin provides is completely different to commercial accommodations in the area. There is no kitchen, shower, lights, or bedding/linens, and this is reflected in its price point,” said resident Robin Solfisburg. “Rather, it is a wilderness experience and will appeal to a client base entirely different than those seeking the traditional comforts of travelers’ accommodations.”
According to the Chilkoot Trail Outpost’s website, the least expensive cabin at the property rents for $165/night. Breakfast is included as well as internet, free bike use and s’mores ingredients.
The assembly voted April 1 to hire a Dyea Campground host. The host will not be paid, but would have use of the no frills cabin. They would be expected to be available in the mornings and evenings.
Mayor Andrew Cremata, who broke the tie with a yes vote, made clear the host would be responsible for just the campground and not surrounding areas, including the Dyea Flats, where illegal camping and campfires often occur.
The rental of the Dyea Cabin during off-season will be further discussed by the DAB and go before the Parks and Recreation Committee.