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New visitor center breaking ground soon at Franklin Mountain State Park

A $6.5 million visitor center will be built at the Tom Mays Unit off Transmountain Road. It's expected to open in June 2019.

A multimillion-dollar visitor center is in the works for Franklin Mountain State Park.

Park officials said no major development has happened since the park opened nearly 40 years ago.

"The park has not much development other than trails, picnic sites and primitive campsites,” said Cesar Mendez, park superintendent for Franklin Mountain State Park.

The $6.5 million project will break ground in June.

"It's going to improve much of the services we provide to the community,” he said.

As we reported, in 2015 Texas lawmakers designated $3.5 million for the site.

Mendez said they also received another $3 million from a federal grant.

The new center will sit at the Tom May’s Unit just off of Transmountain Road in west El Paso.

"A lot of the visitors that are scattered throughout the mountain, now they're going to have a real place, a physical place, where we can funnel all the visitation,” said Mendez.

There currently is a visitor center, but it’s in McKelligon Canyon.

Mendez told KFOX14 the new center will have two buildings connected by a courtyard and garden.

It will also have an area for staff to give presentations, a small amphitheater and a souvenir shop.

"But, having that as the main access point,” said Mendez. “I think that's going to draw a lot more people. That's one of the main goals we have is having more people come into the park, so they can reconnect with nature."

El Pasoans we spoke with said it’s needed.

"With everything new that they're making, it's definitely attracting more attention, you know, it gives people a lot more things to do,” said El Paso resident, Brandon Ortega.

"I think it'll make it easier and better for everybody else,” said west El Paso resident Cesar Duran.

Mendez said construction will take a year and the center should be open by June 2019.

He also told us they’ll hire a couple more people, since the center will be open seven days a week.

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