Braxton Citizens' News, Community, Town Meeting

Movement underway to develop 2 Gassaway parks

March 26 public meeting set to gather more ideas

By Shirley Shuman

Two parks in the Town of Gassaway??? It certainly looks that way. The group of  individuals who recently met at the Gassaway Community Building have begun a movement to renovate the current park and to create another on the 14-acre tract of land adjacent to Kanawha Street. Although they stress that changes can be made, these individuals already have plans developed for each of the parks. They still want and welcome ideas from the public, young, old, and those in between.

For those who respond to these plans with “Ridiculous!” or “It’ll never happen,” or “Why take on such a huge project?”, Lois Cole responds. “This is a huge project. The park  plans are quite ambitious and extensive. We want to develop interesting, safe outdoor  park and play areas for our community. The preliminary plans will be presented at the  meeting on March 26. We welcome any ideas from folks who haven’t yet had a chance to participate,” she said.

Former House of Delegates member Brent Boggs is another one of those eager to see  these plans go into effect. Boggs realizes the current problems with the town park and  importance of renovating the it as it is used by Davis Elementary students on a daily basis. He understands the lack of sufficient equipment for the number of students as well as the need for better equipment.

Another enthusiast, Rocky Nutter declared, “We want to refresh this park, and we need to be very selective here. My take on this is that it needs to be ‘little-kids-friendly’’ and ‘grandmas friendly’.”  Nutter also emphasized, “We need public input!”

He, along with the others in the original group, is also excited about creating a park in the area on Kanawha Street. “This area is like a blank canvas which has been with us all this time,” he said. “The city planners, when the town was being incorporated, designated that area as a city park, but over the years, no one ever followed through on the original idea.”  This second park he sees as a community park.

That area includes what some still call “the old football field” as well as the former swimming pool area on Birch Street. The planners see development of even more of the 14 acres by adding walking and biking trails, picnic areas and much more.

Also in the planning group, Lori Dittman, House of Delegates member, is adamant that the town can use two parks and believes that the larger park especially will draw visitors. “Revitalizing efforts have been happening to Gassaway,” Dittman said. “Our parks along with the rail trail can serves as anchors and host activities for all age groups.”

Dittman also sees an economic value to the proposal. “Community parks contribute a boost to a community’s economic well-being by increasing property values, tourism revenue, business attraction, healthcare cost reductions, and making the area more attractive to people looking to relocate,” she explained.

Looking at the ambitious plans for the two parks, the question of funding is definitely important. Cole explained that Brownfield grant funds were used to hire CEC engineers to develop a site plan for the depot park and for the Kanawha Street park. She noted, “The Braxton County Commission and the Braxton County Development Authority are spearheading this effort to improve park facilities in Gassaway. The county’s grant writer, Sustainable Strategies, will assist with fundraising efforts when plans are finalized.”

Boggs also commented that “A lot of funds [are] available from state, federal, and private sources,” and added, “We need to pitch in and work together.”

Also sure that funds will be available, Nutter mentioned that the proposed federal budget contains “a request earmarked for this project.” 

Dittman stressed “West Virginia has been investing heavily in its public parks and outdoor recreation” and said, “We have the potential to make something special at both sites.” She continued with “We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  (Herbert Spencer)