While New Martinsville Council voted Monday night to seek bids on two improvements at Bruce Park, the measures were not met without some discussion and opposition. The improvements are for the renovation of the miniature golf course and erection of a new shelter.
New Councilwomen Linda Barth, Doris Fannin, and Iris "Deaner" Isaacs had several questions for Parks Director Bev Gibb.
Perhaps their sentiment was best expressed in a question posed by Fannin, "Why we are trying to add more to a system that we can't take care of now?"
Gibb replied that the miniature golf project is a way of taking care of what they have now. "The miniature golf course is 25 years old and can be a revenue producer for us," she added as a way of noting why that project is targeted first in a comprehensive plan for Bruce Park that was unveiled in February 2011. Gibb said the project will make the last nine holes new and accessible while simply renovate the first nine. The project will remain within the current footprint of the golf course.
While an estimated expenditure for the project was never given, Isaacs said she cannot consciously spend "that kind of money" when the parks are not getting the kind of attention they need. "I don't like the way our parks are looking," said Isaacs. "We have to figure out a way to fix that."
"Unfortunately we're pulled pretty thin," replied Gibb. "We need more help. We always accept volunteer help."
Barth wondered if they could have an "Adopt a Park" program. Gibb said they had established a Friends of the Park group and if anyone is willing to help, she would love to talk with them.
"If you don't have enough help, we as council need to address that," said Isaacs, a sentiment Gibb appreciated.
The motion to go out for bid for mini golf renovations was passed, with Barth voting against the measure.
The second project, the shelter construction, seemed to raise less concern and the motion to go out for bids was passed unanimously. It will be funded by a Land and Water Conservation Grant of $20,000 the city received in 2008 and must be spent by the end of December. The new shelter will be erected between the baseball field and the playground. Gibb said the 40 feet by 60 feet picnic shelter, either prefabricated or stick built, will include a concrete pad.
Relatedly, Gibb said West Virginia Northern Community College has given the parks department a nice carport that has been moved to Bruce Park. The city will purchase ends for it and use it for storage. "I'm looking forward to tearing down that old red building," said Gibb.
In discussing other plans for Bruce Park, Gibb said they will tear out the baby pool. "You won't ever see a baby pool there again," she underlined. However, they do hope to one day put a sprayground on top of the old Bruce Pool, a Works Progress Administration creation. "We very much would like to use the shell of that facility," said Gibb.
There are so many backyard pools now that the public pool isn't used as much any more. People need a reason to go to the pool and an interesting sprayground would hopefully provide that impetus.
Some sprayground items for children are also in the plans for the Lewis Wetzel Pool which is currently without a baby pool. "Our baby pool was not to code," said Gibb of the reason for its removal. Its demise was a result of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act that imposed mandatory federal requirements for suction entrapment avoidance. All public pools were required to become compliant with this standard by December 2008.
"That pool could not be renovated to fit with that (compliant) drain," said Gibb.
However, she does not see a sprayground in the future for Brooklyn Park. "There was never a plan to put another one back in."
Gibb said the rumors are not true that a company has offered the city money to renovate Bruce Pool. "Really a town our size doesn't need two public swimming pools," she added.
In response to comments about the cleanliness of Lewis Wetzel Pool, Gibb said the pool paint wears a good bit on the bottom and looks like dirt, but it is not.
Also at Lewis Wetzel Park, Fannin said the tennis court and basketball courts need to be cleaned up. Gibb said the tennis court has a spring under it and it needs to be pulled out; they have some plans for the basketball court.
"People are always welcome to come to our meetings," said Gibb of the Park and Pool Commission. The next meeting is tentatively set for Aug. 22 at 1:30 p.m. However, she said it will probably just be about financing and they will hold a more general one later. Councilman Chris Bachman suggested the second part of the Aug. 22 meeting be used to discuss general concerns. Gibb verbally agreed.
She further informed council that since Wetzel County Schools begin classes on Aug. 20, Lewis Wetzel Pool and the Bruce Park Miniature Golf will probably close Aug. 19 as she loses all of her employees. "We'll also leave the paddleboats open on weekends through the month of September," added Gibb.
As an informational note, she told council that Magnolia High School's cross country meet at the Marina is scheduled for Sept. 15.