Much like the dinosaur tracks uncovered across Somervell County, Jerry Jacene's effort to bring more tourism to Glen Rose is "stuck in the mud."
Two years after the Make-A-Wish Foundation brought Joanna Kang to the city, wheels started turning for Glen Rose Texas Dinosaur Track Site, Inc. But as Jacene awaited to hear the organization's 501c3 status had been approved, the entire effort was "derailed."
Jacene, a self-taught paleontologist from Tennessee who discovered dinosaur tracks behind the Comfort Inn & Suites on U.S Highway 67, had just cleaned out a building adjacent to Hollywood & Vine Restaurant and was ready to renovate it when the property sold. See page 3 for more information on the restaurant.
"They sold the restaurant and the building went with it," Jacene said, adding the new owners plan to use the facility for other purposes.
Jacene said for the last two years, he has been promoting and protecting track sites in an effort he believes would have done more than educate the public on the prehistoric creatures. It would also bring tourists and their money to the city, he said.
Before the plans unraveled, Jacene expected to welcome visitors to the exhibit center in the summer. He said the building would have served as a hands-on visitors center where people could make their own souvenirs and other dinosaur-themed gifts.
Despite the setback, Jacene said he will continue to chase the dream.
"Our hopes were extremely high with the building," Jacene said. "We may not have anything to complete this summer, but I am not giving up."
Investor Mark Kelldorf of Rockwall is expected to visit Glen Rose later this month to "reassess everything" and determine if summer activities can still be centered around the track site. Jacene said he is currently renting a couple of smaller buildings, but they cannot accommodate a gallery and gift shop.
"We need a building with at least 10-foot ceilings," Jacene said. "Working on exhibits takes a good bit of room."
In regard to the further development of "Joanna's Tracks," Jacene said he did not want to continue to dig without a way to "stabilize the tracks."
And money has to be made.
"We have to look at where we can bring money in," Jacene said. "We can't just sit behind that hotel. We have to be able to offer more than simple tours. We need space to set up and build exhibits, a facility that would attract visitors and provide funding. With what we have now, there is only a few dollars here, which is not enough."