While the first day of summer is not until June 21, the New Martinsville Parks and Recreation Department has been busy filling the warmer months with all types of family friendly activities. Some are free of charge, while others are offered for a nominal fee.
"We have facilities open and programs going on all year." states Parks Director Beverly Gibb. "But, we really gear up once school lets out for the summer."
Back by popular demand are the movies offered, free of charge, at Bruce Park. First up will be Disney's Frozen on June 19. The movie is being sponsored by EQT.
The paddle boats on the pond at Lewis Wetzel Park are available for a spin for $3.
Additional planned dates are June 26, July 18, July 31, and Aug. 7.
The movies will be held between the large shelter and the railroad tracks, and begin at 8:30 p.m. Movie goers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. A concession stand will be opened under the shelter.
The local Moose Lodge will be sponsoring "Field of Dreams" on one of these dates. Assistant Director Jodie Weckbacher has been working to obtain additional movie titles and sponsorships for this program.
The movie rental and royalty rights run between $250 and $450 per movie, which is why sponsorships are sought. In the event of inclement weather, event changes will be posted on the New Martinsville Parks facebook page and channel 15.
"Splash bashes, or swim dances, are a big hit with the kids," said Gibb. The dates for those will be June 17, July 1, and July 22 from 8-10 p.m. The dances are open to youth ages 15 and under and carry a $2 admission fee. Parents who prefer to stay with their child during the dance are not charged the fee and are not permitted to swim.
"We will be hosting a first time event this year," added Gibb. "EQT is sponsoring a free family fun night at the pool on July 11 from 8-10 p.m. We are excited to be partnering with EQT to be able to offer this program." Carman Harman will serve as the disc jockey for the splash bashes and prizes will be given away throughout the evenings.
While Safety Town, for children ages four through six is currently coming to an end, day camp will begin in July. The camp is open to youths ages four to 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., throughout the month of July. The campers play games, bowl, swim, do crafts, and more.
The annual Arts In the Park, co-sponsored with ArtsLink, Inc., will be held July 4 at Bruce Park from 1-5 p.m. This is yet another family friendly, free event. Music, crafters, children's games, and more are offered throughout this patriotic event.
The swimming lessons, being offered toward the end of July, have been completely revamped. The lessons are a nominal fee of $15 per child. The goal of this program is to give a child the skills that prepare them each to learn to swim at their own pace.
Parents will be given information to continue to help their child. The classes will be held for children six months to age 12.
It is not just the programs that stay busy throughout the summer. The Lewis Wetzel Family Center is booked solid with family reunions, wedding receptions, class reunions, etc. Often times the center is rented back to back, meaning employees are coming out at 6 a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday morning to get it cleaned and set up for the next group. "I am not sure people understand how many groups do use these facilities," said Gibb. "If someone leaves equipment behind after an event, it just adds to the time and difficulty to get it ready for the next event.
Sounds like a simple problem, but when a wedding party leaves all of their gifts, glassware, DJ equipment, etc., behind after their day rental, it becomes really difficult to fulfill our obligation to the next guy, through no fault of our own." She also noted that former Mayor Lucille Blum loaned her interior design expertise when the center underwent a face lift.
The Lincoln Theater use has greatly increased with the installation of the air conditioning. The Lincoln Theater Restoration Council is a group of concerned citizens who have a love for the historical building. In addition to the air conditioning, the house seats have been replaced, new wall fabric has been installed, the stage has been reinforced, stage curtains have been replaced, and light fixtures and sound equipment have been changed out and installed.
When the river is set to go over the banks, the parks department stays on the watch. "As everyone who has been involved with our downtown flooding understands, it is quite a chore to get the building as prepared as we can to take on water.
It takes a great deal of work, but volunteers and other city employees help us out to get it accomplished," said Gibb. She is currently working on a grant for the roof replacement.
Lewis Wetzel Pool is open Monday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and 1-7 p.m. on Sundays. Adult swim, ages 18 and over, is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to noon. Admission is $3 for those four and older.
The paddle boats operate from noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-8 p.m. on Sundays. The fee is $3 per boat. Swimming pool passes are available for individuals and families. The pool and the paddle boats can be rented for private parties.
Lewis Wetzel and Brooklyn Park shelters are also getting booked up for the summer. The newer playgrounds at these parks make them both great for birthday parties and reunions.
All the park shelters are available for rentals. If the shelter is rented for the day, a card displaying the name and date of the renter will be posted on the shelter sign. If it has not been rented, they are available on a first come basis. The restrooms located nearest the rented shelter are left opened for the day.
Bruce Park has seen the most changes over the past couple of years. The miniature golf renovations are not complete, but the course did open for use on May 31. The response has been very positive and the modest $3 fee, for those four and older, has been very much appreciated by users. Additional landscaping will continue throughout the summer.
Plans for Bruce Pool remain on track. A structural engineering study was recently completed on the soundness of the building. Holes had developed under the pool and it is important to determine the cause of those holes and how/if they can be fixed. "It is the goal of the Parks and Recreation Commission to maintain and renovate the beautiful structure as a usable facility," said Gibb.
Approximately four years ago the youth of the New Martinsville, in grades eight through 12, were surveyed to find out what they would like to see offered in our town. The number one response was ice skating. "It is the goal of the Park Commission to turn the inside of the pool area into an ice skating rink," said Gibb.
"The Parks and Recreation Commission is made up four volunteers and one appointed city council liaison. The Park Commission, along with myself, have worked many hours in researching what, if, and how this can be accomplished. We are at the point where we do believe it can be achieved." said Gibb. I have had people say that they heard a drilling company had approached me and offered to completely pay to renovate the pool and I turned that down.
"That never happened. I am not sure where that rumor started, but it is just that, a rumor. Our town can no longer afford two public pools. They are just not used like they were many years ago. So, we want to make it into something that is wanted and will be used. A spray ground will be put in place at Lewis Wetzel.
"With the closing of the baby pools, there is no place for the little kids to play. We have all intentions of constructing a water area for young children. It was never stated, by myself or anyone associated with our department, that New Martinsville would never have another baby pool."
You can check out the parks on their face book page at N.M. Parks. Questions and comments concerning the facilities and programs can be answered at the parks office in city hall or by calling 304-455-9130. Individuals are encouraged to attend the Parks and Recreation Commission meetings. The meetings are held, once a month, typically on a Wednesday afternoon. However, special arrangements to address the commission at a different time can be made by calling the office.