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Jones Lake State Park to Dedicate New Visitor Center and Lakefront Complex

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Michael F. Easley, Governor
William G. Ross, Jr., Secretary

Release Note: 
Charlie Peek
Release Date: 
Monday, August 22, 2005

Jones Lake State Park to Dedicate New Visitor Center and Lakefront Complex

RALEIGH -- A new lakefront recreation complex and 6,273-square-foot visitor center will be formally dedicated Sept. 1 by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

The 11 a.m. ceremony is open to the public and will celebrate the year-long project that transforms the visitor experience at one of North Carolina's oldest state parks.

The project represents a total investment of $2.42 million for construction of the visitor center and a new bathhouse, renovation of a 206-foot pier and boathouse and new sidewalks and parking area. The project was funded by the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, which in turn, is supported by the state's tax on real estate deed transfers. It is the principal funding source for land acquisition and capital improvements in the state parks system.

"Jones Lake has always held a central place in the life of the community in Bladen County, and these improvements will enhance that presence and raise the profile of the state park," said Lewis Ledford, director of the division. "Alongside the improved recreation facilities will be new opportunities for education about the natural and cultural resources of the bay lakes region."

The Jones Lake project is the latest in a program to equip state parks with modern visitor centers and exhibit halls, begun in the mid-1990s when the trust fund was established. The 1,000-square-foot exhibit hall offers museum-quality exhibits exploring the richness of the Carolina Bays. Dioramas and interactive, hands-on displays depict the natural communities, flora and fauna of the region. There is also a cultural history section that features historical photos of the park and its visitors.

The visitor center also features a teaching auditorium with extensive audiovisual equipment and separate classroom, restrooms and staff offices. The steel-framed building has an exterior finish of siding and brick veneer.

The new bathhouse replaces a masonry structure that had fallen into disrepair and was demolished in 2003 at the site of the new visitor center. The original wooden bathhouse was opened in 1939 when North Carolina began operating the park. At 1,720 square feet, the new bathhouse offers a concession area and men's and women's shower facilities with a solar-powered hot water system.

The pier has been renovated with new wood decking, and the boathouse has been outfitted with new decking, cedar siding and a rubber membrane roof.

The design team for the project was Richard Collier of McKim & Creed of Wilmington, Mike Saieed of Design Elements in Wilmington, engineer David Terkeltoub of Wilmington and Hank Hoomani of PDC Engineers of Raleigh. General contractor was WECC Inc. of Fayetteville.

The federal Resettlement Administration began constructing recreation facilities at Jones Lake in 1936, having purchased exhausted timberland and farmland. North Carolina began operating it as a state park in 1939 under a lease agreement, and in 1954, the park was deeded to the state. Many of the park's facilities were closed during the construction period.