The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

March 30, 2014

Plans and recreation: Park may get a boost

Beckley’s comprehensive plan is up for review by any city resident

BECKLEY — Over the past several weeks, The Register-Herald has taken a closer look at several topics included in Beckley’s Comprehensive Plan.  

The Comprehensive Plan provides a road map to help shape the next 10 years in Beckley.

The plan has already been approved by the Planning Commission and is now with Common Council members for review.

The first reading of the plan will be at Common Council’s next meeting, April 8, and a Poggemeyer Design consultant will be present to answer questions.

Steering Committee chair Ann Worley encourages everyone to take a look at the plan and share their comments during the public hearing, either April 22 or May 13.

This week, The Register-Herald will take a closer look at the recreation section of the plan.

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Recreation:

Much of the recreation section focused on New River Park, which was described as the largest and most significant park in Beckley.

It was built on land donated by the New River Coal Company and it is now home to three picnic shelters, an Olympic-size swimming pool, a water slide, playground equipment throughout, a little league/softball field, a basketball court, eight tennis courts, a fitness trail and a 17-site campground.

New River Park is beside the Exhibition Coal Mine, which includes the mine, church, shanty, miner’s house, superintendent’s house and school house. A mine museum, gift shop, restrooms and an amphitheater are also located at the Exhibition Coal Mine.

An ongoing challenge at NRP is to make all facilities ADA-accessible.

As for the future of the park, the following issues need to be addressed: better access for visitors who are unfamiliar with Beckley, physical expansion, reorganizations of existing activities, further development of a “brand” to define a specific image so it can be effectively marketed, existing condition of surrounding homes and the location of the West Virginia Asphalt Company, and doughnut hole annexation.

The plan suggests renaming Ewart Avenue to “Coal Mine Way,” advertising and promoting multiple ways to arrive at the park, and using the existing railroad bridge over Robert C. Byrd Drive as an opportunity to advertise.

Future plans could also include additional campground facilities for larger RV campers, improved storm water management areas, construction of a Five Star Play Lab for handicapped youths, creation of a new pavilion or amphitheater as a venue for activities, establishment of a dog park and more.

“The City of Beckley has long been associated with its Exhibition Coal Mine, but plans to develop New River Park with more activities and attractions provides opportunities to knit activities together to form a broader experience for visitors,” the plan said.

Other ideas include the implementation of a rocket sculpture to represent the home of the Rocket Boys Festival, and adventure activities, such as ziplines or obstacle courses.

Beckley is also home to a list of other parks, including Barber Avenue Park, Glenn Avenue Park, Harry Levin Park (Freedom Park), Maxwell Hill Park, Mool Avenue Land, Ridge Avenue Park, Thornhill Courts, Scott Avenue Park, Stansbury Tennis Center and Ewart Avenue Playground, Simpkins Street Park, Temple Street Park, East Park Pool Complex and Jim Word Memorial Park and Shoemaker Square.

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The final draft is available for review online at www.planbeckley.com. Copies are also available at the following locations: the Municipal Building located at 409 S. Kanawha St., Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Raleigh County Public Library located at 221 N. Kanawha St., Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and at the City Zoning Office, 203 S. Eisenhower Drive, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. One copy will be available at each location and the copies may not be removed from the properties.

A public hearing will be at 4 p.m. Monday, March 24, at Council Chambers at 409 S. Kanawha St.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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