Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation Conveys New Parkway Communications Center Building to the Blue Ridge Parwkay
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation conveyed ownership of the new Communications Center building to the Blue Ridge Parkway during a dedication ceremony on Thursday, March 22nd. The 1800 square-foot facility, which sits adjacent to Parkway headquarters in Asheville, will provide dispatch for emergency operations and law enforcement to the entire Blue Ridge Parkway as well as Kings Mountain National Military Park, Mt. Mitchell State Park, and the Veterans Administration Police Department in Asheville. As part of a move by the National Park Service to provide more centralized dispatching services, this facility is positioned to serve additional park units throughout the region.
This state-of-the-art Communications Center will support the four districts along the 469-mile length of the Parkway, providing reliable communications for health and safety of visitors and employees and serving as a conduit between Parkway emergency services rangers and interpretive, resource management, administrative and maintenance staff. The dispatchers at the Communication Center interact with 29 counties, 65 cities/communities, 33 fire rescue services, 4 National Forests and 120 town operators in both Virginia and North Carolina.
Construction of this center was made possible with $212,000 in funding from the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and $125,000 from National Park Concessions, Inc., both National Park Service partners. Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis said, “These gifts were vitally important to make this center possible. I think it will be one of the finest communication systems in the National Park Service.” Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, said “We are proud to be able to provide support for this critical component of visitor safety.”
The Center was constructed using energy efficient, biologically safe and sustainable eco-panels to reduce energy demands and provide a safe environment for Communication’s dispatch staff. It is also fully ADA accessible and in the event of a natural disaster is designed to serve as an emergency response center. Francis describes the project as, “a superlative example of private sector support for the Parkway. Very little federal funding was used in constructing this facility.”
This project is one of many supported by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, the Parkway’s primary fundraising partner. Since 1997, the Foundation has allocated over $3 million to various projects and programs for the Parkway and this month announced the allocation of over $650,000 in funding to the Blue Ridge Parkway for 2012 projects and programs.
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