It has come to the attention of Soldiers Delight Conservation, Inc, (SDCI), the Friends Group for Soldiers Delight Natural Environment Area, that Patapsco Valley State Park authorities (who oversee Soldiers Delight) are closing our beloved Visitor Center until August 2020.
The good news is that the Soldiers Delight Visitor Center is finally getting a brand new, long overdue and desperately needed heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. For the past several years, our current HVAC system has not functioned properly, leaving staff, volunteers, visitors and our beloved animal ambassadors sweltering during the summer months and freezing during the winter, necessitating the use of portable fans and space heaters, respectively, at a great cost in electricity.
While the visitor center building will not be open to the public during this time, PVSP says its intention is to leave the visitor center parking lot open from 9:00 a.m. to sunset every day in good weather (which means the parking lot will be closed if there is snow). In addition, the bathrooms at the rear of the visitor center will remain open and accessible to hikers during these hours, as well.
However, during the actual HVAC installation, which will probably last several weeks, the building, bathrooms and parking lot will be completely closed to the public so that the mechanical engineers and HVAC installers will be able to work more efficiently as they take the old system out and install the new one. We are very excited that this significant improvement is finally coming to our center.
For the duration, all of the wild animals that comprise PVSP's Scales & Tales program are being moved into the Soldiers Delight aviary, which is a separate building that will continue to be climate-controlled. Those animals which cannot be housed in our aviary will be temporarily re-homed to other aviaries and nature centers around the state.
While the aviary is not open to the public, fans of Soldiers Delight and the Scales & Tales program can take heart in the knowledge that these months out of public view will allow more time for our naturalists to train our animal ambassadors to interact well with humans, so that when nature programming resumes, our Scales & Tales avians, reptiles and herps will be even better able to deal with the public during nature programming.
While the HVAC installation will likely take several weeks, what distresses your SDCI board of directors is that PVSP does not intend to reopen the visitor center until next August. We have been told that this is due to budget constraints from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, but ten months seems like an excessively long time to deprive the public of such a unique and wonderful resource.
The SDCI board of directors is looking into this protracted closure and will do our best to mitigate it if at all possible. So keep checking our website for updates!