The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 13, 2009

Maintenance concerns raised about BIG

Amelia A. Pridemore

Beckley Intermodal Gateway project architects unveiled more detailed site designs Tuesday night, but a city councilman raised questions about who would maintain the project after construction — and how much it would cost.

BIG is a $24 million downtown revitalization project funded primarily through a federal grant. Its main elements include a transit facility, garage parking to meet current and future demands, a public plaza and stairs and elevators.

City officials are working to obtain more federal money for a proposed second phase.

Landscape architect Molly Davis of New York-based PB Americas, the engineering firm working with the city, presented the designs during Tuesday night’s Beckley Common Council meeting. The updated designs include a covered farmers market area in the public plaza, a paved West Virginia-themed centerpiece and several trees and other plants.

Councilman A.K. Minter noted city beautification committee members have told council members their resources are limited.

He also noted the Board of Public Works’ current workload. He said the designs depicted a beautiful facility, but he wanted to know who would maintain the site. He also wanted long-term maintenance cost estimates.

“I don’t want to see this go downhill,” Minter said. “I don’t want to be like some other cities that start with beautiful projects to have them go downhill and look like trash.”

Davis said the project already includes an irrigation system that will use stormwater runoff to water the trees. That should save both time and money in maintaining greenery. The site will only use plants native to the region that have a greater chance of survival. Some manpower will still have to be used, namely to remove old tree branches.

The planning team, Davis said, also includes a water-proofing consultant who will advise others how to minimize leak damage. Ice and snow removal will also require special materials, and city officials will receive a maintenance handbook at the end.

In other matters:

Council approved a trick-or-treat date and time: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31.

Residents wanting an off-leash dog park asked city officials for their support. Mayor Emmett Pugh complimented the idea, but he said more work must be done, including finding a site that is large enough, determining who will be in charge, answering liability questions and the group becoming a certified nonprofit agency. He noted the latter sometimes takes 12 to 18 months.

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