Carbon County and Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau are working together to update the visitors center inside the Old Mauch Chunk Train Station in Jim Thorpe.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board, as well as Carl Wilgus, president and CEO of the visitors bureau, discussed the upcoming renovation project inside the train station. The project is slated to begin Jan. 2 and conclude just in time for the borough's Winter Fest, in the beginning of February.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, announced that the train station will be closed to visitors during the construction, but a temporary visitors center is being set up inside Pocono Biking and will be open to guests Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. He also noted that the restrooms inside the train station will be available during the construction.
"We're really looking forward to working with Carl to make this project happen," Nothstein said.
Wilgus added that the county has a "gorgeous resource" in the station and is looking forward to the partnership to create a fresh center for visitors.
The renovations include repairing and refinishing the hardwood floor; reconfiguring the current help desks inside the center; painting; installing video kiosks and updated brochure racks; and updating the town's timeline display.
The floor work will be completed by Paul Phillips Hardwood Floors of Hanover Township, at a cost of $7,190; while painting the interior walls will be completed by Dan's Painting of Jim Thorpe at a cost of $5,175.
Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard said that this project will be a "major facelift" for the building, "but it is something that is long overdue."
"We're doing this for the betterment of all tourism in Carbon County," Nothstein added.
In a related matter, Wilgus presented the board with the PMVB annual report.
He said it was a banner year for the Poconos, with approximately 25 million people visiting the Poconos this past year; over 2.1 million visitors visited the PMVB site to find out events in the area.
The National Geographic Society chose the Poconos to create a Destination Touring Map and Guide to the Pocono Mountains.
He also spoke about the upcoming ski season, which is expected to be "robust" because of the upcoming Winter Olympics; as well as the live video feeds throughout the area that are sent to major news stations throughout the tri-state area.
Commissioner William O'Gurek commended Wilgus and PMVB for their hard work in bringing in tourism into the county.
"We appreciate your responsiveness to Carbon County and all the years you've been here," O'Gurek told Wilgus.
"You've been receptive, responsive and always been here for us. We appreciate that."
To view the annual report, visit www.800poconos.com/annualreport.