The $2.5 million renovation of the park facilities is close enough to completion that the bathhouses, concession stand, swimming and boating areas reopened Thursday, according to Superintendent Shedrick Mole.
"We have a few punch list items left on the visitor's center," Mole said, "but the park is open for business."
The first major renovation at the park since the 1950's features modern bathing areas, a state-of-the-art visitor's center, and a larger, improved swimming area. First established as a state park for blacks, the park has been open since the 1930's.
The renovations began in January 2003, and were originally scheduled for completion by Memorial Day. Construction delays forced the opening back until this week.
"We're very pleased that we can open up again," Mole said. "We've had a lot of folks calling and making reservations or just asking for information about the park.
Even without the new visitor's center, Mole said, Jones Lake State Park has plenty of activities for vacations or just day trips. Swimming and fishing are allowed for a small fee. Hiking and camping are also permitted at the lake.
The parks' picnic shelters are popular with both lunch-time visitors and family groups. Canoes and paddle-boats are available for rent at the newly renovated boat house and dock.
"We think the wait has been worthwhile," Mole said. "We've already had a number of calls about reserving the picnic shelters, and people have been calling for months wanting us to open back up."
"It feels good to be able to say we're open again for swimming and other activities," Mole said.
While camping and some hiking areas have been open, Mole said, swimming, canoeing, boating, fishing and activities such as picnicking, horseshoes and volleyball have been unavailable during most of the renovation.
"We'll be able to offer everything we had before," Mole said. "When the visitor's center opens, we'll have more."
The visitor's center should ready in the near future, Mole said. It features multi-media displays and hands-on activities describing the natural resources and the history of the lake.
Conference and classroom facilities will also be available for rent, Mole said.
The park's staff of around 17 full and part-time workers were working feverishly to put the finishing touches on the site Wednesday.
Ranger Sean McLemore said he was excited.
"It will be good to have everything open again where people can enjoy it," he said.