Wood County parks making progress

PARKERSBURG – On the anniversary of his second year on the job, Wood County Parks Director Jeremy Cross updated county commissioners on progress at the county’s three parks.

Cross said improvement projects are progressing at Veterans Memorial Park, near the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport; Mountwood Park is back on the positive side of the financial ledger, and the hiking trail at Fort Boreman Historic Park is progressing.

With the aid of a $7,000 Parkersburg Area Community Foundation grant, Cross said Veterans Park has seen a number of improvements.

“We have ordered water fountains and are in the process of having the existing ones replaced, there will now be ones that are ADA-compliant. This spring, I would like to apply for a grant to replace the roofs on the park shelters, get them painted and update those,” Cross said.

At Mountwood Park, out U.S. 50, Cross said several projects were completed.

“The Pressley Ridge roof was replaced at a cost of about $189,000, it had been an ongoing project. It was finished earlier this year. The restrooms have been renovated. In May, Claywood Park Public Service took over operation and maintenance of our Watergate treatment facility, so that’s been a big plus for the park. We just finished the campground paving project, that road was in terrible shape. We took money out of the operating budget to pay for that project. That should increase the number of campers and our revenue from the campground,” Cross said.

Mountwood also improved social media options through a new Facebook page and website.

“During September, we had 14,000 hits on our facebook site, that’s a lot of people we were able to reach now. We are also working on a park map and informational kioskes for the main areas, the campground, administration building, and marina parking lot. That’s a work in progress, hopefully it will be finished this summer,” Cross said.

One of the main pluses for Mountwood, Cross, said, was being able to clear up the park’s financial status.

“We’ve got the park back in the black. We now have $123,000 in our operating account, with about $80,000 in accounts receivable coming in, and that’s with about $65,000 coming out for the campground paving project. I think we are in pretty good financial shape out there now,” Cross said.

The park saw a number of cutback to achieve its financial goals, according to the park director.

“We cut back staff during the wintertime. We laid off all the seasonal workers, which is typical for a park setting. That’s one of the ways we’ve helped balance the budget out there,” Cross said. “We will be continuing to work on the infrastructure out at Mountwood Park and I will continue to look for grants. We’ve also used grant to turn the park around. Currently we have about $160,000 in grants we are utilizing for the facilities at Mountwood Park.”

At Fort Boreman Park, located off the U.S. 50 bypass, work on a new hiking trail is underway. The trail is being developed with the aid of a $98,353 recreational trails grant from the Department of Highways.

“We have finished the boardwalk portion and the overlook of the trail system, now we are working on the handrail,” Cross said. “It’s a 400-foot boardwalk with a 20-by-14 foot deck, there will be metal guardrail. We also got some recycled park benches through the Wood County Solid Waste Authority that will be installed along the trail. We also got benches for the other two parks through that same program,” Cross said.

“It’s been a challenging situation at Mountwood Park, the board has been working very hard,” noted Commissioner Blair Couch, who serves as county commission liaison to the Wood County Parks and Recreation Commission, Mountwood’s governing board.

Commission President Wayne Dunn asked about the progress of development of the ATV park at Mountwood Park.

“I understand there are some problems with rights-of-way out there,” Dunn noted.

Cross said they are currently waiting to hear back on access through Dominion Gas Co. property for the trails.

The director’s position was created about two years ago by the county commission to oversee and coordinate the county’s three parks. The job was created through existing funds that had been used for a Mountwood Park director’s position, which was eliminated, along with some funding from all three parks’ budgets.