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New Visitor Center to be Built at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

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Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor
Dee Freeman, Secretary

Release Note: 
Charlie Peek
Release Date: 
Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Visitor Center to be Built at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

RALEIGH -- The state parks system is beginning construction of a 7,000-square-foot visitor center and related facilities at Cliffs of the Neuse State Park in Wayne County, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

A groundbreaking will be held at the park at 11 a.m. April 3 with the Tuscarora Nation of North Carolina helping to mark the event with a Ceremonial Blessing.

Similar to visitor centers built at 18 state parks and state recreation areas since 1994, the facility at Cliffs of the Neuse will offer a unique design reflecting the park's character and will feature an exhibit hall, teaching auditorium and classroom along with administrative offices for both the park and the state parks system's east district. The visitor center will be located on Park Entrance Road overlooking wetlands and the park's lake, and it represents an investment of $2.4 million from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, the principal funding source for state park capital projects and land acquisition.

'Education is really the principal focus at visitor centers in our state parks, although the centers also serve as gathering places for the community and help give each park an identity,' said Lewis Ledford, director of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. 'Wayne County and the surrounding region have always been very supportive of Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, and we take great pride in being able to offer this facility to the community.'

This capital improvement effort represents a significant boost for the local economy. A 2008 study by researchers at N.C. State University shows that state parks in North Carolina potentially contribute $289 million to local economies annually as well as $120 million to local residents' income. The Cliffs of the Neuse project has been designed and is being built by private, North Carolina contractors. Allocated funds will be used to employ dozens of construction and other skilled workers and to buy supplies and materials.

As part of the state parks system's initiative for environmentally-friendly construction, the new visitor center is registered as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, project with the United States Green Building Council and will incorporate as many features as possible to make it energy efficient and sustainable.

Some of those features include active and passive solar energy systems, low-energy, water-source heat pumps and a highly reflective roof surface to reduce summer heat gain. Also, the building's sidewalk will feature a cast model of the Neuse River.

The designer of record is Schema Architecture of Raleigh, and general contractor is Blue Ridge Enterprises of Mount Airy. The event is open to the public. The state park is located 12 miles southeast of Goldsboro on N.C. 111.