BREAKS, VA – July 25, 2022 – Improvements to the Breaks Interstate Park, including the addition of a swimming pool, log cabin construction, cottage renovations and other infrastructure improvements will be made in the coming months at the park due in part to two grants totaling $1.1 million closed recently between the park and the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA).
The funds include an up to $601,600 grant to fund the improvement projects which comes from the VCEDA Civil Penalties Fund and an up to $500,000 grant to fund the construction of a new swimming pool which comes from the VCEDA Dickenson County account.
The up to $601,600 grant will be used specifically to develop infrastructure and improvements at the park and in addition to the pool, cabins and cottage renovations, the funds will also be used for replacement of HVAC unit(s) at the Rhododendron Restaurant, the purchase of an articulated boom lift, the addition of roofs on the outdoor decks of the five existing Laurel Lake cabins and for additional funding for construction of the Potter’s Flats Swinging Bridge.
“Four of the seven projects which are the focus of these grants are related to goals in the park’s five-year strategic plan,” said Jonathan Belcher, VCEDA executive director/general counsel. “The other three projects are those which target improvements to the park’s existing facilities. VCEDA is pleased to assist the park in all of these projects which help to improve the quality of life in our region, an important component in enhancing all economic development efforts.”
The four projects in the park’s strategic plan are:
- Swimming Pool: the addition of a swimming pool to the park’s existing waterpark facility.
- Log Cabins: The construction of two new log cabins around Laurel Lake.
- Cottage Renovations: Renovating the interior and exterior of the park’s cottages.
- Potter’s Flats Swinging Bridge: Funding to complete the construction of the Potter’s Flats Swinging Bridge.
The new boom lift will provide maintenance rangers a safe means to access roofs, gutters and rooftop HVAC units throughout the park.
According to the application, the elements of the five-year strategic plan are projected to grow the park’s economic impact from its current level of $30.1 million to $40 million by the end of 2026.
The park demolished its decades old swimming pool and replaced it with a waterpark in 2012, which VCEDA also helped to fund. Park officials noted that while the facility has been well received, it has also prompted calls from park guests regarding the need for the addition of a swimming pool.
“In early 2020, the Breaks Interstate Park received funding from two private foundations, which allowed for the hiring of a consultant to conduct a strategic plan,” said Breaks Interstate Park Superintendent Austin Bradley. “This plan, which was finalized and adopted by the Commonwealth in late 2020, is geared toward identifying the steps the Breaks Interstate Park needs to take in order to become a nationally recognized destination, thereby growing its visitation and economic impact.”
Multiple sources of data were considered in the formulation of the plan, including case studies from similar sites, visitor input surveys, interviews with key stakeholders, online reviews, social media content and market analysis.
“The addition of a swimming pool to the waterpark facility emerged as one of the top five capital projects which could be undertaken by the park commission in furtherance of these goals,” Bradley said, adding, “The park commission and management feel the pool and these enhancement projects will provide additional recreation opportunities to the local community, create seasonal employment opportunities for local youth and will greatly enhance our efforts in attracting visitors to the park and encouraging them to stay in our area for greater lengths of time.”
“The objectives in our strategic plan were heavily informed by the input we received from our guests, many of whom are from the Southwest Virginia and Eastern Kentucky region,” Bradley added. “We feel that this is fitting, since the park belongs to the public and we are deeply grateful for VCEDA’s financial support as we seek to implement the wonderful ideas which were contributed as part of this process.”
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.