Bath Visitors Center moving through planning

‘Tis the season for visitors, and outdoor events, and Bath County is one step closer to beginning its’ long-awaited Visitor’s Center on the lot in Mitchelltown.

I spoke to one person who will be working closely with architects, planners and builders,

“Kelsey Ralston, Tourism Coordinator for County of Bath Tourism”

After a public meeting with the Galve Holmes Team, who is in charge of the Master Plan, and the building design, Kelsey had this to say:

“I think the process is coming along really well. Coming in in the middle has been a little hectic, but I feel like I’ve jumped right in. Everybody’s explained everything perfectly. I think it’s moving forward really well; lots of concepts and things to be discussed, but I think we have a really good plan for the future.”

At the first meeting for public input back in February, participants ranked photographs of precedents. These were images of whole structures, or elements of local architecture and landscape that residents would like to see incorporated into a new site. After this second meeting, a clearer image of what the design team hopes to achieve is evolving.

Kelsey explained,

“Even if you’re from Bath County you can see parts that are like, ‘oh, I know where this came from, or if you’re a visitor, you say, oh I really like what I saw here; I wonder where I can see something similar, and then we can direct you, you know, to where we got the idea from, for those structures.”

“Will it be a place that the community is welcome to come and use, as well as visitors and tourists?”

“Yes, this is definitely as much a community facility as it is for visitors. We want different groups in the county to be able to use it for meetings, or whatever they need to have; you know, just a place where everyone can come, visitors, community members alike. It’s for everybody. “

That’s why the design team is eager for input from the community. They’ve made it convenient for anyone with internet access to participate by visiting a web link that is included with this story on the AMR web page, or by calling Mrs. Ralston.

I asked if a covered pavilion was likely to be one of the first structures on the site because there has been so much interest in a farmer’s market, or a place for yard sales or reunions.

“I think we’re talking about that being in the first phase because that’s another thing that’s really important, is being able to host events, outside events that are for many different groups, you know artists, writers, a possibility of a farmers’ market, so I think that that’s in the plan for the first phase of construction, which would be great for the county.”

There are still several more things to consider before breaking ground, and another opportunity for residents to come participate in the planning.

“It’s important for the people of the community to know that this is a multi-phase and multi-year project so it’s not all going to happen at one time. We’re talking about which parts to put in which different phases, and there’ll be another community meeting on July twenty-sixth at the firehouse at six again so that will give the community a better idea of where we are going forward with it.”


To see many of the precedents for this project and others’ input, and provide your own comments:


password: visitsprings!


Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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