"We decided, because of time constraints and budgeting concerns, not to hold a groundbreaking ceremony and instead to get started on construction," said Dusty Reid, park superintendent. "We will host a grand opening celebration and dedication ceremony when the project is finished."
The start of the construction project realizes a long-time dream of Roaring River concessionaires Jim and Karmen Rogers, who began making plans for the new store over five years ago.
"We are very happy to see the project progressing," said Jim. "It takes time to get all of your I's dotted and T's crossed. Everything takes longer than you think it will."
Last month, Kenmar Construction, Inc., began excavation work at the property located near the intersection of Highways 112 and F below the Roaring River Lodge.
"We have done work with Kenmar Construction before," said Jim. "The project architect, Kent Smith, has also done a lot of work on state projects."
Construction crew members have poured footings for the new building and hope to pour the foundation for the facility next week. Work has also been done to enlarge the parking area located near the site. When the project is complete, the new facility will offer at least 30 parking spots.
"Our clientele is getting older," said Jim. "There is not enough parking at the top of the hill where the store is located now, and many people are forced to climb the steps to buy their daily tags."
Modeled after the store at Bennett Springs State Park where Jim also serves as concessionaire, the new store will be more than double the size of the current 1,900-square-foot Roaring River Park store, which is located in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Lodge.
Although the store location will change, it will continue to offer visitors an assortment of bait, tackle and fishing equipment as well as a variety of souvenirs and collectable items. Jim said that store inventory will probably increase around 50 percent.
The new store, which will feature a wood and stacked stone exterior, will offer customers an improved showroom floor with wide aisles, high ceilings and a large open foyer.
"We will probably be adding eight to 10 new employees at the new store," said Jim. "This will make service faster. Customers will not have to wait as long, and people who are just purchasing a tag or license can get in and out quicker."
When the new store is complete, it will also offer families staying in the park a more convenient place to purchase camping supplies, said Reid.
"It will be more centrally located to the campgrounds, which will allow campers to walk to the store," said Reid. "It will be a very nice facility."
Roaring River's new store is being financed through a lease hold improvement agreement, which will allow Jim and Karmen Rogers to rent the building as long as the couple retains the concessions agreement at the park. The Rogers are also using some personal funds to help finance the building project.
After the new store has been completed, Roaring River State Park officials will decide how to use the CCC Lodge. Jim is interested in a project that would renovate the building to offer more lodging in the park.
"There have been lots of ideas, but I think the most popular idea has been to take it back to what it was originally," said Jim. "We think it would be a nice place to stay. Imagine sitting on that porch and looking out over the stream."