ST. GEORGE — The Washington County Commission granted tourism dollars to the town of Springdale on Tuesday for the construction and maintenance of an incoming visitor and history center.
The commission approved $390,000 in an interlocal agreement with Springdale to go toward the development of the visitor center that is anticipated to “promote and maintain the heritage of the area and its cultural elements as visitors come to the Greater Zion Canyon area,” according to Jeff Carlson, chair of the Springdale Historic Preservation Commission.
Carlson addressed the County Commission at Tuesday’s meeting and thanked them for their support for a project that’s been months in the making and a collaborative effort between several different parties.
While the town of Springdale will remain the ultimate decision-maker in relation to the visitor center, it will also take input from Zion National Park, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, the Springdale History Society, the Zion Canyon Visitors’ Bureau, the Zion Forever Project, the Rotary Club of Zion Canyon and Z Arts to support local tourism programs and events and educate visitors about the area, according to the interlocal agreement between the town and county.
The visitor center also aims to educate guests about other things to do and see in Washington County, in addition to visiting Zion National Park.
“We’re looking forward to helping the Greater Zion tourism team leverage those visitors to learn about other recreational and tourism opportunities throughout Washington County,” Carlson said.
With Zion National Park drawing over four million visitors annually in recent years, local officials have been looking for ways to help spread those visitors across the county.
The town of Springdale provided the initial funding for the proposed visitor-history center, which will be housed in an historic building in the area of 668 Zion Park Blvd. next to the Zion Canyon Best Western Plus Hotel.
The funds the County Commission approved Tuesday come from money derived from transient room taxes paid by tourists — not county residents, Commissioner Gil Almquist said.
The amount was originally approved by the county’s Tax Advisory Board and sent to the County Commission with a recommendation for final approval.
“This is a much-needed facility for our area and visitors and a really valuable tool to help spread out those visitors,” a representative of the advisory board told the commission Tuesday.
In other business conducted during Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, contracts were approved for paving and curb work on the parking lots of county libraries in New Harmony and Enterprise.
Almquist noted that while some libraries in rural America are being forced to close due to lack of use, those in the more rural parts of Washington County are well attended.
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