CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Members of the Kanawha County Parks Commission voted to adopt emergency purchasing guidelines Wednesday that will speed up the process of hiring contractors and, in effect, hasten the cleanup of Coonskin Park after June 29's devastating derecho.
The massive derecho windstorm that tore a swath of destruction several states wide devastated Coonskin, ripping trees to shreds and dropping limbs and trunks hundreds of years old all over the entire park.
Parks officials cleaned up as much of the damage by themselves as they could, but Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson said he doesn't have the equipment or people to handle the massive damage from the storm.
Hutchinson estimates storm damage at the park at more than $300,000.
Hutchinson said many trees are still hanging high overhead in the woods, too dangerous for untrained crews to remove. He said officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency have twice been to Coonskin, and couldn't believe the extent of the damage.
Parks officials don't even yet know how badly the park's trail system was damaged in the storm. "We haven't been able to get to the trails," he said. "This is going to be a big job."
Parks officials had hoped to reopen the upper part of the park, which incorporates most of Coonskin's picnic shelters, in August.
"We're still closed," said parks commission president Anna Dailey.
On Wednesday, the parks board voted to adopt the state's guidelines for purchasing in disasters. The rules allow parks officials to suspend the normal bid process.