STONE MOUNTAIN — A new company owned by a veteran executive at Stone Mountain was named Monday as the finalist to take over management of the park next summer.
The Stone Mountain Memorial Association’s board voted unanimously to enter into negotiations with Thrive Attraction Management. The new firm’s owner, Michael Dombrowski, has served as the park’s vice president and general manager since 2014.
“We are honored to have been selected to continue the great work of managing Stone Mountain Park for the past several years and to keep in place an experienced group of senior managers and engaged employees,” Dombrowski said Monday. “We’ll build on our success by … ensuring Stone Mountain Park is a welcoming and inclusive environment for all visitors from Atlanta, the nation and the world.”
The Stone Mountain board has been under pressure since nationwide civil rights protests erupted during the summer of last year to de-emphasize Confederate imagery at the park, dominated by a giant mountainside sculpture of Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
The board responded last May by passing resolutions to add historic context to the sculpture with a museum exhibit to be located at the park’s Memorial Hall and move the Confederate flags lining the park’s main walkup trail to the base of the mountain.
Then in August, board members adopted a new logo for the association that leaves out the Confederate symbols contained in the former logo.
While critics of the Confederate imagery at Stone Mountain have called for the carving and other symbols of the Confederacy to be removed altogether, a law the General Assembly passed in 2019 prohibits removing historic monuments from public property.
Subject to a final agreement, Thrive Attractions Management would take over at Stone Mountain next July 31, when the park’s current lease with Herschend Family Entertainment expires. The new company will partner with Crescent Hotels and Resorts to oversee operations at the Evergreen Resort and Conference Center and the Stone Mountain Inn.
“Crescent has consistently ranked as one of the top five hotel management companies in America,” Bill Stephens, the association’s CEO, said.
The board also announced Monday it is releasing a request for proposals for a company with experience in museum exhibition design to develop an interpretive plan for the exhibit at Memorial Hall.
“We want to provide an expanded interpretation of the sculpture as art, the technological achievement it reflects and its relationship to local history,” the RFP states. “The new exhibit should be thought-provoking and engaging and should entice new visitors to the museum as well as encourage and excite Georgians to revisit it.”
Proposals are due next April, and the board is scheduled to award a contract in June.