The staff and space for public areas of the National Visitor Center at Union Station will be reduced by approximately one-third Wednesday as an economy measure to assimilate a one-third reduction in the center's operating budget for the new fiscal year.
George Berklacy, spokesman for the U.S. Park Service, which maintains the center, noted that Congress had reduced the center's budget by $2 million for the fiscal year starting Nov. 1.
He said "cuts include reducing the size of the staff at the center from 55 to 15, relocating 40 of these employes to other Park Service jobs, and closing the two movie theaters, the center's massive audiovisual slide presentation and information booths. Cleaning and plant maintenance contracts also will be cancelled and such work will be done by Park Service personnel, Berklacy said.
The center, a $45 million facility, has not met projected estimates that 25,000 to 50,000 people would use the center daily from early April to Labor Day.
"It could be assumed that the (budget) cut was based on low visitation," Berklacy said. During 1976, its first year of operation, 1.6 million people visited the center. But the number of visitors dropped to 483,000 in 1977 and to about 10,000 people so far this year, he said.