JEROME - Chamber of Commerce president Tom Pitts has taken the lead in trying to get the Jerome State Historic Park reopened. Opened in October of 1965, the Douglas Mansion was operated continuously as the State Historic Park until Arizona State Parks closed it, suddenly, on Feb. 26.
Although the parks board originally targeted the park for closure due to budget constraints, when it finally closed the tourist attraction, it gave "maintenance and repairs" as the reason. Unfortunately, no work or bidding has taken place on the mansion.
Pitts spoke to the Jerome Town Council Tuesday night to update them on his and the chamber's efforts to reopen the park.
"I put together a petition calling for the reopening of the park," Pitts said. He said more than 3,000 signatures of Arizona residents had been collected. Other signatures from throughout the United States and many other countries were included on the petition.
With the petition, Pitts included a fact sheet based on a 2007 study done by Northern Arizona University on the economic impact of Arizona's state parks.
Nearly 2.3 million people visited Arizona state parks in 2007, spending more than $162 million. The Jerome State Historic Park generated more than $7 million income for Yavapai County.
The total visitors to the park during that year was more than 60,000, with 72 percent of them from out of state.
Pitts told the council that state officials are actually starting to look at it.
"We're anxious to get it reopened," he said.