Recreation task force makes headway
by Jazz Clark
Work continues in making the 9.92 acres of county-owned land off U.S. 522 clean and safe for a recreational complex with cleanup partners West Virginia Brownfields.
Discussion at a July 19 meeting included how the money will be sought, more finalized deadlines on when the fields will be cleaned up and brainstorming to vision what exactly to put on the site.
Phase II, a more detailed assessment of how land problems can be rectified, will be completed by October 1 at the latest.
The W. Va. Department of Environmental Protection paid for Phase I completely, said Patrick Kirby, Brownfields program coordinator.
“This will be a much more thorough testing than what was done a few years ago,” Kirby said. “They did 10 or 12 samples. These guys will grid out the whole thing.”
Morgan County is competing nationally with many other counties for grants and federal money that would pay for all phases of cleanup and later on the facilities. Brownfields applies for over $1 million a year in West Virginia alone.
By 2014, the land should be safe and ready for a multi-use recreational complex to be built.
With funds in place, the next step is a fact sheet to show what the plan is for the acreage.
“We have to have a story to tell them. No one is going to clean up the site just to clean up the site,” said Kirby. “We’re not pitching to EPA cleaning up a soccer field, we’re pitching what the property is going to be. That’s visioning.”
Ideas for the site include tennis courts, baseball fields and soccer fields. Others have suggested that a public use site for camps or the farmer’s market would aid Morgan County.
One suggestion was to have a booth at the Morgan County Fair, August 4-5.
Brownfields will provide maps and mock-ups of the property, and task force members will be taking input from the general public.
“It’s a good idea,” said Commissioner Brad Close. “We’re always looking for more and more ways to engage the public.”
Task force members worked together to fill out information on Morgan County, which Brownfields has compiled to make more detailed grant applications.
Complete results of the data will be available soon, in time for more grant applications.
Kirby is confident that with the decision enhancer tool information collected, the FOCUS grant to complete the project has a better chance.
“We’re off to a great start in engaging the public already,” said Kirby. “Now we just need creative ideas and to determine our need, which we can do by looking at models of other communities.”
Next meeting of the recreational task force will be Monday, August 23 at 5 p.m.