After an hour of discussing promotional merchandise, new maps, advertisement and upcoming events as well as ironing out the board's articles of corporation Tuesday night, Grieshop said 2007 should be a year of building. He said the Black Mountain Recreational Park has forced the county to come together in order to make the tourism endeavor work, and that he hoped it could continue to promote such cooperation.
"The worse we are, the worse this project will be," Grieshop said. "We've made good progress in respecting each other, coming together and making this endeavor work. I'm pleased that we're ahead of other counties with similar parks, and it takes a lot of energy to push a project like this. ... My challenge is to bring in new things this year, to make improvements and to keep people coming back."
The Black Mountain Recreational Park is entering its third season, and based on club reports given by the Kentucky Mountain Crawlers and the Harlan County Ridge Runners, it's become both evident and encouraging to board members that park activity is on the rise and that more off-road enthusiasts are finding their way into Harlan County.
It's board chairman Mike King's vision to see more people coming to the Black Mountain Recreational Park. Last season, about 50,000 park visitors were reported. This season, King wants to see at least 70,000.
"We're making plans," King said. "We're taking things slowly and putting a lot of thought in the direction of this park, because we not only want it to be a success, but a sustainable success."
There's evidence of the enthusiasm and the attention the park is creating through the numbers being reported at local lodging entities like King's Black Mountain Cabin rentals.
"It used to be that people called in with reservations two weeks out," King said. "Now, we're seeing reservations being made six months in advance. This year, we've got reservations made all the way up to August."
Board member Roger Fannin has repeatedly said that the Black Mountain Recreational Park is one of the most exciting developments in Harlan County's recent history.
"This year, we'll be solid," Fannin said. "And all of the efforts that's been put forth to make this project work will be, I believe, evident in the strides we'll have made in terms of tourism and recreation."
Some of the plans for the new season that were hashed out at Tuesday's meeting include selecting art designs for this season's off-road park T-shirts and sweat shirts. A representative from VIP Sports attended the meeting and also said other merchandise, such as lights, could also be made available for sale to generate revenue. King said he would like to see the park's inventory of merchandise expanded.
Shirt selections were not made Tuesday night and were tabled until February's meeting in order to allow time for other board members who were not present to view the designs.
Harlan County Sheriff Marvin Lipfird also attended the meeting, informing board members that his office will be dedicated to providing a police presence at the park. Current funding, he pointed out, limits him from assigning a deputy solely to the park at this time but said he would be pursuing funding opportunities to make that happen.
"I want to support this park in any way we can," Lipfird said. "We want to know what ground rules you want."
Board members said they would supply a list of the park's "ground rules" to Lipfird, adding that they have been satisfied with the amount on patrol that's been made available to the park.