Parks Director Asks County For Support
New Martinsville residents will not have a city pool to swim in this summer unless the city’s Park and Recreation Department can come up with much-needed funds to pay for a necessary upgrade for Lewis-Wetzel Pool.
“Each year we welcome thousands, and I would lean toward tens of thousands, into our parks and facilities,” New Martinsville Parks and Recreation Director Bev Gibb stated to the Wetzel County Commission Tuesday morning.
Gibb explained how area residents come to use the city’s parks and facilities whether they are attending an event, a movie at the park, a wedding reception, a school picnic, or swimming at the pool or using paddle boats at Lewis-Wetzel. Furthermore, Gibb stated that the parks’ facilities are also sometimes used during storms, such as when they may be used as a shelter.
Many of the events offered by the park, Gibb noted, are offered free of charge, such as the Easter egg hunt or the movies, both held in Bruce Park. “I would be hard pressed to find somebody within a five mile radius that hasn’t used one of our facilities at one place in time,” Gibb stated.
Gibb stated that Lewis-Wetzel is in dire need of a pool upgrade. “The skimmer system is shot,” Gibb explained. “We want to make sure we have a safe, enjoyable place to go to swim. We’d like to put in a liner, just exactly what St. Marys has put in, and a new gutter system around the top to get rid of the skimmer . . . a new filter, new chlorination system.”
Gibb stated this upgrade would cost roughly $350,000. However, she also has plans for a spray ground to be installed at the pool, for smaller kids. “We have nothing for little kids,” she stated. “This spray ground would consist of water cannons, water to dump on their heads, it would be zero depth to a foot-and-a-half depth . . . all of this would be ADA compliant, and we are looking at $250,000 to $300,000 for that.”
Furthermore, Gibb stated that the department would like to install a couple of water slides off the hill with “a separate plunge pool.”
“I believe that would set us apart from many of the parks right now. We have many people that go down and use St. Marys and Marietta for their water park, but we are looking at offering something different than what they have. The rough cost is around $300,000, so we are looking at over $1 million . . . We have meetings up to date to talk to a bond attorney, to get that taken care of . . . we are meeting with people and are pursuing this. We are looking at trying to be creative to make this happen.”
“You say people are going to St. Marys,” Commissioner Mason stated, “Why are they going there.”
“They have a nicer facility,” Gibb stated. “They have the pool and slides, and tube slides . . . they have a facility for small children, and big pirate ships and water cannons. We need to get something going,” she stated.
Based on surveys completed by New Martinsville students, the Parks and Recreation Department is also looking at perhaps installing an ice skating rink where the old Bruce Park pool is. “The structure is sound,” Gibb explained. “Originally, we thought about filling it full of compact material and making ice skating on top, but you’d have to build a ramp. What we’d like to do now, is find the best point, knock the wall out, and fix it so you can just ice skate on the floor of the pool. We’d like to cover it some way to keep the snow off the ice, and then in warmer months, we’d use it as a shelter or a covered court for basketball.”
Mason remarked that the space would be small for an ice skating rink, but Gibb stated that during the winter months, children were skating on puddles that had frozen over at the marina.
Gibb did not have cost estimates on the ice skating rink, as the department was in the process of gathering information. “Our number one priority is to get Lewis-Wetzel Pool open for next summer.” Gibb proposed that the commission give the department $40,000 each year for the next five years.
Commission President Bob Gorby stated that he was not sure if the commission could grant that request, as it would be putting the next commission in that debt.
“Another thing we have to look at,” he added, “is that if we help out New Martinsville, we have to help out Hundred and Pine Grove as well.”
Gibb stated she understood this, but “some of these things I can show . . . those towns, they are beautiful and worked hard for what they have, but we have some of the things in place already, that we can offer already . . . Plus, even though we use the title of New Martinsville Parks and Recreation, we are an organization that offers things to everyone, to people coming from out of the county.”
In terms of grants, Gibb has Land and Conservation fund monies pending, but has to get additional information to them by Dec. 15. “I sent in the application, and I received a letter back, they were asking for three things. I sent them one thing and then they need additional information, so they didn’t just toss our application aside.”
Commission Vice President Larry Lemon asked what had to happen to Lewis-Wetzel Pool in order for it to become operational. “I know the spray ground and the spray pool are complimentary to it, but what must you have to open Lewis-Wetzel as far as the cost to repair.”
Gibb stated that the department was hoping to use some of the filtration unit from Bruce Park’s pool. “That was revamped 14 years ago, and it was used for 10 . . . It was well done, so I’m hoping to use it.” Gibb stated that if they could use this system, it would save the department $25,000 to $35,000.
New Martinsville Council Member Steve Pallisco stated that the issue was that “sometimes when you make something else fit, it becomes expensive.”
“The park commission has done a great job,” Pallisco stated. “One of the things I’ve got by listening, is that if we piece this together, we are going to be so old . . . We are falling further and further behind with communities like Wheeling, Marietta, St. Marys, and Moundsville.”
Gibb stated that the new miniature golf course at Bruce Park has given quality family time to the community. “It’s a safe place to go to, and we are giving families time together . . . I want to see us offer what we can offer. I think we owe it to our community to give them a safe place to go have a good time.”
The Parks and Recreation department is looking at $1.5 million. “That would make our payments about a $100,000 a year. That’s all we are feeling comfortable doing. We don’t want to tie our hands completely. If we have a mower that breaks down . . . what good is a park if we have weeds over the kids’ heads?”
It was also suggested that the department could perhaps flood the soccer field by New Martinsville’s marina for ice skating. “If you want to see how it works out, it would cost you about $10,000 to $15,000. You could get some salvage pipe from Axiall and put a little dam around it to see how it works,” Mason stated. Gibb stated that it might be something the department could think more of, but she was concerned about the liabilities.
Harold McClain of the parks department stated that one of the reasons the department is promoting ice skating at Bruce Park is because there is a public sentiment attached to the park. “We see this as a way to utilize it in a productive manner. It is not feasible to modernize the pool to current standards, to operate it as a pool, but we definitely believe there is a lot of historic sentiment. We saw this as a way to keep it what it is, and provide a useful facility.”
The commission did not make any decision on funding Tuesday, but stated they would look into the matter.
In another commission-related matter, it was approved to give the Wetzel County Animal Shelter supporters $11,798.40 for new kennels, including one that is required for quarantine.