Monika Mayr, Blue Ridge Parkway acting superintendent, announced Friday that Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts, part of Delaware North Companies, will be issued a 10-year contract to manage the facilities at Peaks of Otter.

Delaware North Companies is a privately held, international company headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y.

A National Park Service statement reported that the ?Parkway is optimistic that the lodge will reopen early this summer.? And it said Parkway management was encouraging Delaware North ?to reach out to employees and the community and introduce themselves and their plans as soon as possible.?

The lodge, at milepost 86 on the parkway, has been closed since Thanksgiving, when the previous management company, Virginia Peaks of Otter Co., opted not to renew its concessions contract with the National Park Service. The lodge and restaurant, built in 1964, had been open year-round since 1977. Three lodge buildings house a total of 63 rooms.

Laura Nelson, a concessions management specialist with the National Park Service, said the contract with Delaware North defines a ?minimum operating season? for the Peaks of Otter facilities of May 1 to Oct. 31. She said the company can opt to stay open all year.