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Concessionaire responds to State Park's request for RFPs

Roland Luehne, owner and CEO of C and W Enterprises, Inc. (C and W) and the Star Plunge, has issued a response to Hot Springs State Park’s future plans and partnership development information recently included in an Independent Record article.

According to Luehne, the Star Plunge has been an attraction for residents of and visitors to Thermopolis for over a century.

The current management agreement between the state and the aquatic center expires on December 31, 2024.

“The Star Plunge has been in my family since 1975. For decades, the state has leased out the land on which the Star Plunge sits and for decades, my family has invested numerous resources to make the Star Plunge what it is today. While the land itself is owned by the state, the facilities, buildings, pools, trade fixtures and equipment are owned by my family,” said Luehne.

Information from Wyoming State Parks states that regulations mandate a request for proposals (RFP) process for concession contracts exceeding five years in duration.

According to Luehne, “Over the past several years, the state has created obstacles for the management of the Star Plunge. Most recently, an RFP was issued in November of 2023 which will award the lease of the land for the Star Plunge and ownership of all of the facilities, buildings, pools, trade fixtures and equipment that my family purchased. The state will not compensate C and W or require the new lessee to compensate C and W for the facilities and buildings my family  purchased and built. The RFPs requirements make it virtually impossible for my company to retain the lease of the land and make no note of purchasing anything from my company.”

“In response, we have filed a letter of protest with the state, asking that the state withdraw the 2023 RFP and issue a new one that is compliant with state and federal laws and regulations. In addition, 24,000 people have signed a petition of support for the Star Plunge,” said Luehne

Brooks Jordan, Big Horn District Manager, has previously stated, “According to the terms outlined in the existing management agreement for the Star Plunge, as well as all preceding agreements spanning over 50 years for the Star Plunge, the operator is obligated to return the premises to State Parks upon the agreements’ expiration or termination,” explains Jordan. “Additionally, it’s worth noting that in 2021, Star Plunge ownership had the chance to enter into a long-term lease agreement with us, but terms could not be agreed upon,” he added.

No long-term agreement has been reached between the state and the Start Plunge owners.

The Hot Springs Hotel and Spa has a management agreement that expires on October 31, 2026. A comparable clause regarding the mandate of a request for proposal (RFP) process for concession contracts exceeding five years in duration is also present within the Hot Springs Hotel and Spa management agreement so they were included in the recent RFP process. Messages left with hotel management seeking comment had not been replied to at press time.

Luehne can be contacted by email at Starplunge@gmail.com.

 

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