By Katy Savage
Christiana Marts was sitting on her edge of her couch on Wednesday night, watching Congress pass back and forth a bill that would temporarily raise the debt ceiling and finally end the government shutdown.
“There was great uncertainty as to when we would be returning to our jobs, just not knowing,” said Marts, who is the assistant superintendent at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park.
The park reopened again Thursday morning after nearly three weeks of closure. All regularly scheduled events, such as museum tours, were back and running.
But the park was closed during the height of fall foliage season and one of the busiest times of year in Woodstock.
“I think the uncertainty of the situation was stressful for many,” Marts said. “This is a staff who cares very deeply about what they do. I think it was frustrating for them not being able to offer public programs during the height of visitation and having to sit at home and not take care of the resources that we are charged to steward.”
Regularly scheduled events, including fall foliage walks and bus tours, were canceled.
“Those first two weeks of October it was very sad to not be able to provide those programs that we usually offer,” Marts said.
The park usually sees 20,000 visitors during the season. There were more than eight student field trips that had to be rescheduled or canceled.
“Those two weeks tend to be the height of field trips to the park that are part of curriculum that teachers have worked on all year,” said Marts. “It was a great disappoint for many of the teachers.”
It was also upsetting to park employees. About 30 people were furloughed.
“We care very deeply about the park and the community that we’re a part of. It was really hard to sit on the sideline and not do our jobs,” Marts said.
On Thursday, Marts was working to reestablish paint, garden and heat contracts that had to be postponed. She was rescheduling school visits and special tours. There will be a Peak to Peak event on Oct. 19.
“It’s fabulous to see all the people out on the carriage roads and trails again,” she said.