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Officials cut the ribbon at Oak Mountain State Park Campground after an extensive renovation – Shelby County Reporter

Officials cut the ribbon at the Oak Mountain State Park Campground after an extensive renovation

Published at 3:37 PM on Monday, May 20, 2024

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – In the shadow of Oak Mountain State Park’s new camping activities pavilion, a gathering of government officials, civic leaders and state parks staff gathered for a ceremonial ribbon cutting on Saturday morning, May 18.

The ribbon cutting was intended to officially mark the opening of OMSP’s newly renovated camping facilities and celebrated the completion of a nearly year-long endeavor – with the site scheduled to reopen on Friday, May 24, just in time for Memorial weekend Day.

The site overhaul, the first renovation and renewal of the site in almost five decades, took a multi-pronged approach to renovation and has meant that the area now offers improved amenities, modernized infrastructure and extensive camping facilities.

OMSP’s campground has long been one of the park’s top attractions, but public response and official commentary had long indicated that the area needed work. Following the planning phase, the renovation project began in full in October 2023 and was completed just days before the ribbon cutting, with the area’s paved roads among the last completed elements of the facilities.

“We have long known that the campground at Oak Mountain State Park was in need of a major renovation, and it is worth making that dream a reality,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “From the moment visitors check in at our new camping store, they will step into a better campsite than we have ever had at Oak Mountain.”

The renovation work at the Oak Mountain State Park campground consists largely of all-new construction, demolishing, replacing and modernizing much of the area’s previous infrastructure.

In addition to the activities pavilion, a larger camp shop is now immediately visible to campers and park visitors when they arrive on the roads, which have also been widened and resurfaced.

The work also includes new toilets and underground work, such as the installation of new water and sewer pipes to the campsite’s new facilities. Improved electrical connections, expanded campsites for larger, more modern recreational vehicles and campers, Wi-Fi infrastructure, new park trails and a new expanded playground are other elements of the project that have made the campsite more modern.

The new area playground, the first of its kind in any state park in Alabama, was designed as a national demonstration site playground to demonstrate leadership in best practice design. It features a soft, spongy, cast-in-place rubber floor that park officials say is not only safer for children, but also more durable than traditional surfacing.

“One thing I’m most proud of is that it was done first class,” Blankenship said. “We have not cut corners here and this will remain the case here for generations. We made sure we got it right and we appreciate the work of the contractor (on the project) and the design team that put this together.”

According to park officials, all of the campground’s electrical hookups have been upgraded to provide 50/30 service, a crucial element for visitors traveling in modern RVs.

“Today’s RVs come with all the modern conveniences, including air conditioners and major appliances,” Blankenship said. “It’s sometimes difficult to get people excited about electrical improvements at any campsite, but people simply don’t want to stay at a campsite without adequate electricity supply. We need to recognize that 50/30 amps was once a luxury and now a necessity.”

Visitors to the new campsite will also notice newly built and more spacious bathhouses that have replaced their old predecessors. The new bathhouses are fully accessible and equipped with separate units with shower, sink and toilet. Those facilities also include elements previously absent from the bathhouses, such as washing machines, heating and air conditioning.

Further additions to the campsites include four American with Disabilities Act compliant tent sites and eight ADA compliant RV sites. All camper pitches are also fully equipped with a picnic table, grill, lantern hook and fire pit. Primitive camping sites have also been adapted and provided with a tent mat for each site.

While speaking at the event, State Rep. Arnold Mooney stated that it was a blessing to have Oak Mountain State Park and its newly modernized campground in his home district.

“The memories families make here are very special,” Mooney said. “It’s a great park; the lakes are incredibly beautiful and the opportunities for churches to come here and be present as part of events are wonderful. This place (the pavilion) will be used continuously.”

The $13 million renovation of the campground was funded by the $85 million parks bond issue approved by Alabama voters on the ballot in 2022, with additional support for the project also provided by the Shelby County Commission.

“It’s great to have a facility like this where people can come out and enjoy the green space,” Blankenship said. “Shelby County has been a great partner for us. I think they understand that you can bring about growth and economic development in your community and at the same time protect these properties so that people can have a quality of life and come out and enjoy the beauty that God has so richly endowed with us here in Alabama blessed. .”

Camping reservations are open online at Alapark.com through the Plan Your Alabama State Parks Adventure Online portal. Park officials encourage guests to make advance reservations to secure preferred dates.