CHARLESTON, W.Va. - More than a thousand community members got to see the changes taking shape at the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve in Fayette and Raleigh counties Sunday.
Contractors began work on the site about three years ago. In that time, they've cleared land, built infrastructure, a stadium, pools, a skate area and miles of biking and hiking paths.
The Summit Group distributed 1,200 free tickets over four days to local community members for a first-time view of the progress at the site.
The number of tickets allotted was based on the Festival of Lights at Ogelbay Resort in which visitors participate in a driving tour. The park has a similar route and can accommodate roughly 33 cars per hour, said Gary Hartley, director of community and government relations for the Summit Bechtel Reserve.
"We wanted as much of the public to be able to see the site as possible while still keeping logistics in mind," he said.
Many park-goers received tickets through distribution at the Crossroads Mall in Mt. Hope. Eddie Souk, 63, of Mt. Hope, said his wife received a ticket at the mall, and the family packed the car full to check out the state's newest landmark.
Souk's family has been involved with the Boy Scouts for some time. Their car was the first in line Sunday.
"We're very excited to check it out," he said. "It's a good thing for the area, I think."
The tickets allowed Souk and others the chance to take a driving tour of the sprawling site where the Jamboree will be held.
Souk said the nearby community is benefiting from the redevelopment of the site, which was formerly an abandoned mine.
"Some of our streets have been getting paved in Mt. Hope, and we'll just have to see what else will come from it," he said.
The site's inaugural event is the Boy Scouts of America's 2012 National Scout Jamboree, which will be held July 15 to 24. The land will serve as the new, permanent home for the jamboree, which is held every four years.
It will also be the site of the 2019 World Scout Jamboree.
"In 2010, it was the 100th anniversary of Scouting," Hartley said. "At that time, we wanted to look forward to the next 100 years, and there's nothing like a big project to rally people and get them interested in Scouting."
The tour took visitors through a 14-mile route where some 40,000 Scouts, leaders and staff will gather for the 10-day event. This will also be the first year it will host co-ed campsites.