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Putnam County to devise parks and rec master plan

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- The Putnam County Commission and Putnam County Parks and Recreation hope to develop a master plan for the county's parks for the next several years and determine projects that would most benefit economic growth in the area.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Williamson said he hopes to outline a plan in the coming weeks and put out a bid for consultation.

"It will probably take 30 days to secure someone to start the process," Williamson said. "We need an overall master plan that we review every five years on average to see if we're still going in the direction that the county wants to go. If we are, we go on, and if not, we deviate and re-evaluate."

Williamson said any plan outlined by the county will consider the use of Tax Increment Financing district funds. Commissioners discussed the possibility of funding projects in contiguous areas outside of the TIF district that would benefit the district, including potential multipurpose recreation fields in Hurricane.

"I'm on the [Convention and Visitors Bureau] board, and I've asked about expanding hotels, and their response is, 'Give us a reason. Give us the people. Give us the heads in the beds,'" Williamson said. "What I've been wanting to do is actually get people to come to Putnam County and to stay here for a while, to spend their money here and possibly even relocate and grow business."

Williamson said he will include potential plans for fields in Hurricane, as well as improvements and expansions to existing parks when developing the plan, but the County Commission will have to consider if it will expand the TIF district or create a shoestring TIF district to include land in Hurricane for development.

"We work well with multiple projects. These things sound good; I would just really want to hash out who will maintain and take care of [the fields]," Williamson said. "They look great at first, but they have to be maintained."

The commission voted to allow Parks and Recreation to make improvements on the wave pool at Valley Park, as well as improvements to the park's entrance road.

"In the interim, there are some projects at Valley Park that are pressing, and I'd like for us to move forward with those because they're time-sensitive," said commission President Joe Haynes. "We have some work with the wave pool that needs to be done as soon as we can get to work on it."

According to Williamson, parts of the pool need to be resurfaced and long-term mechanical repairs need to be made to its pumps, which will allow the park to treat and keep the pool water for up to three years and avoid the number of temporary fixes it has to do after every swim season.

"Right now, because of the shape the pool is in, I am required to dump the pool every year to do patches -- 'Band-Aids' -- and piece it back together. It costs us $5,000 to fill it up, plus thousands of dollars in chemicals for the startup," he said.

"It's hard on the pool itself because it's sitting on a high water table, and with the freeze-thaw action of winter, it actually pushes that pool out of the ground, which compromises the structure even more. After 30 years, that pool has lived its life, and we need to do some work to it now."

It will cost an estimated $125,000 to repair the wave pool and $65,000 to repair the road. Parks and Recreation is also restoring Hometown Park, which was damaged by the derecho last year, and has completed a 25-acre nature park in Red House that sits on land deeded to the county by late resident Norman Walter.

Williamson attended the regular commission meeting Tuesday to give a quarterly financial report. The commission has requested all of the county agencies it funds to submit updates at its meetings, which County Manager Brian Donat said was partly in response to the Putnam County Health Department's recent financial problems.

"Recently, with the Health Department and other things, the commissioners wanted to make sure they're aware as soon as possible of how things are going with these agencies," Donat said. "It's also a good way to keep up to date with what's going on with the different agencies, what events they may be having or what new occurrences they're dealing with."

The next County Commission meeting will be Aug. 27 at 9 a.m., and several county agencies, including the Health Department, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Development Authority will present their quarterly financial updates.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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