A new 62-acre park in Christiansburg could have a significant economic impact on the local community through tourism, according to a consultant’s report unveiled this week.
Earlier estimates predict annual revenue of over $1.4 million that could produce another $878,000 being put back into areas like hotels and restaurants, also creating 23 full-time jobs within the community.
Christiansburg officials got a glimpse Tuesday into the inter-workings of a business plan for the proposed recreation area, labeled as the “North Christiansburg Regional Park.” It is initially known as the Truman Wilson Park located along Peppers Ferry Road, directly behind Walmart on Franklin Street, and has been on Christiansburg’s table for nearly four years.
The business plan was just another step in getting it off the ground, or to get the “dirt moving” so to speak. Trevor Kimzey with Gay and Neel Engineering said the economic numbers are annual impact figures.
“The specific numbers in the impact correspond to the initial year assumptions and would presumably grow from there forward as growth at the park occurred as well,” he said.
Gay and Neel Engineering, along with Pros Consulting, presented the report to council and members of the town’s recreation commission during a joint meeting Tuesday night.
The town had hoped to break ground on the park by now, but has been delayed because of lack of funding for a proposed four-lane road from Peppers Ferry Road, through the park to Cambria Street. The Virginia Department of Transportation says the funds could be included in the 2017 Commonwealth Transportation budget.
In addition, a gas line through the parcel had also caused some concern, but the town was able to work with the gas company to move it to the side to allow an access road into the park.
Groundbreaking could take place as early as this spring with construction over the next two years, but a modest timetable could be pushed to late summer.
Council has said they would like to build the park all at once and not in phases.
The park will have three major areas: athletic activity area, community activity area and passive recreation space.
Consultants told the group this business plan was developed to provide a dynamic road ma, to manage the park to business goals and outcomes while meeting the needs of the community.
The input assumptions are based on guidance from the consultant and staff input.
Overall the project includes: an amphitheater venue, passive recreation space (50 percent), picnic shelters – various sizes, active recreation Priority 1 – multipurpose fields, active recreation priority 2- softball fields, all-accessible playground, a dog park, trails with an external connection, trails with internal Connectivity, beach volleyball court, splash pad / spray ground, maintenance buildings, parking and outparcels (for Sale / Revenue).
Based on discussions with town staff and per the community and town leadership’s vision, consultants said during the presentation, it is clear that North Christiansburg Regional Park has all the makings of a destination location, both for town residents and for visitors.
A key in the proper use of the proposed amphitheater calls for a third party to manage booking and overall operations of the entertainment section in the park.
PROS Consulting conducted the economic impact analysis on how the park could affect the community, and believes it could be a moneymaking opportunity for both the town and its local businesses.
Annual revenue, according to the business report, from concerts and other events at the amphitheater could be over a million dollars. In most cases, an admission price would be charged and additional revenue could be generated through concession sales.
All of this, according to the report, is conservative and could be much more than anticipated.
The sporting area of the park could also be a source of revenue for the town with preliminary estimates of an economic impact of $800,000 over a five year period.
Conversely, the report shows it could cost approximately $500,000 per year to operate the overall facility. This includes as many as five new full-time employees and several part-time ones.
The park is estimated to cost as much as $36 million to be built.