PARKERSBURG - Several groups of officials got a look at possibilities for a former industrial site Tuesday in Parkersburg as students from West Virginia University unveiled a conceptual design for Agate Marble Park.
The conceptual plan of the 8-acre Vitro-Agate Marble Factory site located off East Street near the bridge was presented by WVU Landscape Architecture Program students Ayaka Hosogaki and Claire Jeran. About 20 officials attended the luncheon presentation at the Blennerhassett Hotel Tuesday. City officials, members of the Downtown Taskforce, the Municipal Planning Commission and coaches from crew teams at Parkersburg and Parkersburg South high schools sat in on the 90-minute presentation.
"We have a broad base of people here," said city Planning Administrator Rickie Yeager.
Photo by Jody Murphy
City Planning Administrator Rickie Yeager discusses the conceptual design for the proposed park on the Vitro-Agate Marble site near the East Street bridge Tuesday.
The concept was also presented to the public Tuesday evening as well as to members of the Parkersburg City Council Public Works Committee.
The design concepts incorporated the site's industrial history, the reuse of existing materials, sensitivity, green infrastructure and river access and recreation, Jeran said. The plans included recreational activities, nature programming and revenue-producing ideas, such as a ice cream shop, bike store, marina and bar and restaurant.
John Nicholson, a member of the Downtown Taskforce, liked the idea of creating another park in the city.
The students provided examples from real-world applications as the basis for some of their designs, drawing on concepts from waterfront parks in Toledo, Cincinnati and China.
There is also an similar idea in Morgantown along the Monongahela River.
Yeager said the park's features would not be duplicates of other parks in the area.
"The uses would be very different from Point Park," he said. "No duplication."
Yeager also noted the site is at the intersection of the city's Little Kanawha Connector bicycle trails.
Kathryn Wittner, an assistant professor at WVU, said economic studies also need to be done to see if business concepts from the design as feasible.
Yeager said the group also met with the property owner, Foam Coat Roofing and Coating company, Tuesday. City Development Director Ann Conageski said the park is one of several options the property owner is considering, including development.
"The property owners has his own ideas," Yeager said. He noted one advantage the city has; it can apply for grants to clean up the site. To do that, the city or another government entity would have to own the land. Officials also said the property is challenged for development by the fact 75 percent of the it is inside the floodplain.
The site was first developed in 1889 when Standard Oil built two iron oil tanks on the site. The site was most recently a Vitro-Agate Marble, which closed in 1989.
Mark Lewis, executive director of the Greater Parkersburg Visitors and Convention Bureau said repurposing old industrial sites was important to any community.
Phase II of the environmental study still has to be done, which includes determining what is on-site, as well as a mitigation plan to clean it up. Yeager said once it's determined what materials are on-site, phase II will take about a year to complete.