A Vision for Daniel Boone Park
by Anna Oakes
The majority of people who live in or visit Boone may know about the Horn in the West amphitheater and surrounding facilities — but how often do they utilize them?That’s what a steering committee working to redevelop the town-owned properties, known collectively as Daniel Boone Park, wants to know. A community input survey is available online at http://www.danielboonepark.com , a new website created for the redevelopment project.“We’re trying to get as many people in the community as possible to provide insight and ideas on the facility and what it can be,” said Eric Woolridge, director of tourism planning for the Boone and Watauga County Tourism Development Authorities.Woolridge and Southern Appalachian Historical Association chairman Billy Ralph Winkler first proposed the redevelopment project to the Boone Town Council in summer 2011, calling for a multi-year, $4 to $5 million capital campaign to renovate and enhance the 36-acre property.The 60-year-old campus includes the Daniel Boone Theater (the amphitheater used for the Horn in the West outdoor drama), Hickory Ridge Living History Museum, Daniel Boone Native Gardens, Strawberry Hill Arboretum, the Jaycees park and playground, a parking lot used for the Watauga County Farmers’ Market, a town recycling center and Boone Public Works Department maintenance yard.
“A lot is at stake with this vision plan and capital campaign because a significant investment is going to be necessary to ensure that one of the country’s longest running outdoor dramas continues to not only exist but thrive,” Woolridge said.
In August, the council approved the redirection of $15,000 from the existing Horn in the West capital fund to be used as a seed grant to help plan the capital campaign. SAHA contributed another $5,000. That money has been used to hire Project Director Frederick Halback of Marquis Halback, a consulting and design firm with experience in urban design, community parks and public buildings and historic and cultural landscapes.
Since last summer, a steering committee of stakeholders from the Town of Boone, TDA, Daniel Boone Native Gardens and farmers’ market formed. The committee will incorporate input from the survey in creating a long-range vision and conceptual master plan with recommendations for physical improvements and additional programs at Daniel Boone Park.
“We have a property that is under-utilized many months out of the year,” Woolridge said. In addition to traditional cultural tourism opportunities, Daniel Boone Park could expand its offerings to revenue-generating events as concerts, retreats, conferences and weddings, Winkler and Woolridge told the council last summer.
Plan leaders have met with stakeholder groups since last summer to gather input. In late February, the steering committee will meet to develop consensus on ideas, and on Monday, March 19, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Watauga Public Library, the committee will host a public workshop during which a draft vision and conceptual master plan will be created. Woolridge said the goal is to present a draft plan to the Boone Town Council in April and, hopefully, to launch the capital campaign by mid-summer.
The survey asks respondents how frequently they visit Daniel Boone Park facilities, with whom they visit, how they would rate their experiences and the conditions of the facilities and about their interest in a number of current and potential activities at the park. The final question provides an opportunity for open-ended comments.
Woolridge said the survey link has been sent to local organizations as well as past Horn in the West attendees. Respondents can also forward the survey link on to others, he said. While the survey will be live until March, the steering committee hopes to receive as many responses as possible within the next three weeks.
The slogan developed for Daniel Boone Park is “Where Boone Tells Its Story.” In addition to the community survey, the website features maps of the Daniel Boone Park campus and an executive summary of the project, with existing conditions, proposed activities, partnership and funding opportunities and notes from stakeholder meetings.
For more information or to complete the survey, visit http://www.danielboonepark.com or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) If you would like to take the survey but do not have Internet access, contact Woolridge at 828-266-1345.