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Dunbar to take over management of Shawnee Park

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the Kanawha County parks board voted Friday to turn over the operation of Shawnee Park to the city of Dunbar.

For years, parks officials have been trying to get West Virginia State University to take over the park, but school officials have been unable to come up with the money needed to run the facility.

Kanawha County Parks Commission President Anna Dailey told members of the parks board at a special meeting Friday that officials in Dunbar came to parks officials with an offer to take over Shawnee.

Under an agreement reached with Dunbar officials and representatives from West Virginia State University, Dunbar will take over operations, management and maintenance of the park's clubhouse, picnic shelters, basketball courts, tennis courts, ball fields and swimming pool in exchange for a $1 yearly lease.

"It is not the golf course," Dailey said. "That will remain our responsibility."

Dunbar Mayor Jack Yeager said Dunbar parks officials will take care of the pool, the park and make improvements and minor repairs. County parks officials will continue to maintain the golf course and collect golf revenue.

Dailey said the parks board will keep the option of canceling the lease if the deal doesn't work out.

"It's a no-brainer," said parks board member Buck Chestnut. "We can cancel the contract at any time." The arrangement will save the county parks board some money in maintenance and other costs.

Yeager said Dunbar city officials get a swimming pool out of the deal. Dunbar's city pool did not open last year because of leaks.

"The pool at Dunbar, the bottom fell out of it, literally," Yeager said. The situation left Dunbar without a pool, a situation that would require expensive repairs or building a new pool to rectify.

"Why would you spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars to repair the Dunbar pool when the Shawnee Park pool is right there?" Yeager said.

Dunbar officials agreed to keep events that West Virginia State has scheduled at the park. Yeager said the park also still will be available to host the Kanawha County Fair.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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