SHAMOKIN - Construction of a welcome center and parking area at the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) is expected to start in less than a month. It will mark the first permanent construction at the off-highway vehicle park that's been in the planning stages for more than three years.

AOAA Authority member Pat Mack, speaking at Tuesday night's authority workshop, said he was pleased to see least 20 contractors attend a pre-bid meeting Monday morning.

Contractors have until noon Monday, May 20, to submit bids. The authority will accept those bids May 21 at their regular monthly meeting and award contracts for plumbing, heating-ventilation-air conditioning, electrical and general contracting work pending approval from the state.

"A good majority of them were local. I didn't see anyone leave saying they wouldn't be able to do it," Mack said.

He said the general contractor can start construction by June 3, and authority members expect the project to be finished by Sept. 2, which is Labor Day.

The trailhead area, which will be just off Route 125 south of Burnside, will have an administrative building with an office, conference room and three maintenance garages. There will be 75 parking places on a paved lot and 180 spaces on a gravel lot, with additional overflow parking. The area will also include an ATV safety course, benches, lights and signs.

Authority member Barry Yorwarth said three months to finish the project is realistic due to the type of work.

"It's a large-scope project, but it's not technical or real demanding," he said.

The majority of the work is building a parking lot and constructing a small building, he noted.

Mack also said a 3,000-gallon septic tank would need to be installed on the property, meaning it would have to be serviced and pumped regularly.

The money to fund the construction project is coming from a $1.5 million grant that was awarded in 2011 from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

In other business, the authority expects to vote on the following at its next regular meeting, May 21.

- The purchase of "no trespassing" signs at a price not to exceed $1,000. The solicitor finalized his approval for the design.

- Participation at the Anthracite Heritage Festival of the Arts parade on May 24 pending further information.

- Drafting a letter to the federal Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) in support of a grant program to update the authority's technology.