Pilot leaders updated on park projects
About 60 people were on hand Thursday at the Mountain View Restaurant in Pilot Mountain for a Lunch with Executives program sponsored by the Grand Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and the Pilot Mountain Business Council. – John Peters | News from Mount Airy
Pilot Mountain State Park Superintendent Matt Windsor spoke on Thursday, giving people an overview of the visitor center construction program and other improvements in the park. – John Peters | News from Mount Airy
PILOT MOUNTAIN – Fourteen months after construction began, the final stages of the construction project are in sight at the Pilot Mountain State Park Visitor Center.
That was the message from Park Superintendent Matt Windsor, who made the remarks during a lunch with leaders Thursday at Pilot Mountain. The event was sponsored by the Grand Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and the Pilot Mountain Business Council.
Windsor was the keynote speaker for the noon meeting at Mountain View Restaurant, where about 60 people gathered to hear his speech.
Windsor told those gathered that Pilot Mountain State Park has always been a destination attraction, as a resort dating back to the 1700s, then as a private campground, and since 1968 as a state park.
Since the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation took over the park, the number of visitors has exploded.
“Fifty years ago, when it became a state park, we had 50,000 visitors in the first year,” he told those gathered on Thursday. “Last December, the park welcomed 59,000 visitors (in one month).”
He said the number of visitors – which easily exceeds 700,000 a year – has put a strain on the park at times. The day after Thanksgiving, for example, he said visitors had to wait an hour just to enter the park.
This is one of the reasons he is excited about the construction of the visitor center and related improvements.
Construction of the center, he explained, is funded by Connect NC Bonds, championed by former Governor Pat McCreary and approved in 2016 by voters across the state. Initially, Windsor said the Pilot Mountain State Park project was to receive $ 6.7 million, although all Connect NC Bond projects were subsequently slashed by 25%, reducing local park funding to $ 4.4 million. of dollars.
This, he said, is more than will be necessary. Initial cost estimates for building the center and related upgrades were $ 3.1 million, and he believes the project will still be completed on budget, and almost on time.
The original target was to be completed on March 12, although the project will last a bit longer than that. “I hope we will be done by mid-April,” he said.
In addition to the visitors’ center, Windsor said parking will more than double and officials are looking to improve some of the trails, campsites and at least one of the viewpoints.
He told the rally that one of the problems with the park was that when most of the trails and viewpoints were built, the Americans With Disabilities Act did not exist, so visitors in wheelchairs or faced to physical limitations sometimes can not access certain parts of the installation.
The view to be improved, however, will give disabled visitors the ability to use the site in the same way as able-bodied visitors.
Another project Windsor is excited about is the shuttle service which will be offered as part of a three-year trial program. The service will transport people in and out of the park, even to the famous button. While visitors will still be free to drive their own vehicles, he said he hopes the shuttle service will alleviate much of the sometimes bumper-to-bumper traffic that the park experiences during peak hours.
Following Windsor’s remarks, Randy Collins, President and CEO of the Greater Mount Airy Chamber, made a few brief remarks.
“We need to find a way to get more people out of the park and get them back to Pilot Mountain,” he said with the general agreement of those present – mostly business owners, managers and officials. local. “We have people coming to the park, and we have everything that is going on in town, there is a lot going on at Pilot Mountain,” he said.
The city has seen some kind of resurgence over the past couple of years, with a number of new downtown festivals and fairs drawing weekend visitors. Part of this effort has been the formation of the Pilot Mountain Business Council, which works in conjunction with the chamber to create new business for the city.
Lunch with executives on Thursday was part of that effort, explained Pam Morgan, who sits on the business council. She said the group tries to get together at least once a month, with a lunch with the leaders, lunch and an after-hours learning or event.
“We are trying to be more active,” she said after the meeting ended. “It’s not about fundraising. It is about helping each other, helping our businesses to develop.
And, she agreed, maybe find a way to force some of those state park visitors to visit businesses in town.
About 60 people were on hand Thursday at the Mountain View Restaurant in Pilot Mountain for a Lunch with Executives program sponsored by the Grand Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and the Pilot Mountain Business Council.
Pilot Mountain State Park Superintendent Matt Windsor spoke on Thursday, giving people an overview of the visitor center construction program and other improvements in the park.
Contact John at 415-4701.