Cumberland County leaders say a new welcome center, dubbed a "Gateway" to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is moving forward at a proposed location off Genesis Road exit (Exit 320) in Crossville -- a location that's miles away from park gates.
"The tourism and the visitor center would provide a great stop for travelers. There's over 30,000 cars that pass through I-40," commissioner Sonya Rimmer said.
For the last eight years, past Cumberland County commissioners have voted on whether to place it at that location. It would take less than 2 hours to get to the park from Highway 297. Highway 127, a few miles away in a separate exit, is the most direct route to Big South Fork.
The center would be controlled by the county, not by the park.
This commission agreed Genesis Road would help hotels, restaurants, and gas stations -- pumping more money into the economy.
"It would be great to promote this exit... We have a shopping centers with several local retail businesses," Rimmer said.
Owners of Halcyon Days restaurant, off Genesis Road, said the welcome center would be a welcome sight for them.
"To check out what's in this area... so they'll pass by the restaurant, and tempt them to stop," said John Little, the restaurant's owner.
Big South Fork officials say if this welcome center does go through, they would support it by adding park rangers to the complex.