Valley Park in Putnam is still growing
HURRICANE, W.Va. -- Kevin Counts goes to Valley Park about twice a week to walk the paved trails. His kids spent their childhood playing soccer there.
"We've grown with the park," he said.
And the park is still growing. By the end of this month, a nearly $2 million expansion at the park should be completed, said Scott Williamson, director of Putnam County Parks and Recreation. The 5.5-acre addition will make the park a little more than 70 acres.
The park, located off Teays Valley Road, which used to be all farm land, is home to the county's wave pool, ballfields, tennis courts, walking trails, a seasonal ice skating rink and playground equipment, among other things.
"It was one of the last couple of farms in Teays Valley, so we wanted to keep the whole expansion along the lines of a farm theme," Williamson said.
A red barn has been constructed that will serve as a maintenance shop for the county since the old equipment storage building burned down last year.
"Someday, if we're able to build another maintenance shop, the barn can be repurposed for rentals or a place for weddings," Williamson said.
A large white gazebo modeled after an old one-room schoolhouse in Eleanor will be a place for picnics. A sandbox for children will have a pigpen theme.
On the upper level of the addition, there will be soccer and t-ball fields. The new area will also have several water features.
"We have a couple of springs that hit in the middle of the site," Williamson said, adding there will be a series of waterfalls. Also, he hopes to eventually stock the water and have a place for children to fish.
An extra entrance into the park that will help clear congestion after events is long overdue, both Williamson and Counts said.
The popular Civil War Days are held at Valley Park, along with many firework displays.
"It can get really congested," Counts said. "I foresee a day when there will be a traffic light."
Williamson said the new entrance would be more for park-goers while traffic headed to the wave pool will be guided toward the old entrance, only a few feet away.
Last year, the wave pool had problems for much of the swimming season. However, Williamson said before the pool opens this year, a new motor that powers the ocean-like waves will be installed and ready before Memorial Day weekend. Two years ago, the slides at the pool were refurbished.
"It will be like having a new wave pool and a new park," Williamson said. "We have people coming from outside the county and state looking for [the wave pool]."
Walking trails will be expanded and connected with others in the park -- something Counts especially likes.
"Look at how populated Teays Valley Road has become," he said. "With our state not being so good with health and wellness, I think the more we have the better.
"Some people might say with Hurricane City Park being just down the road that it's overkill, but with the population still growing, I don't think it's an issue."
The expansion is being funded by a tax-increment financing (TIF) district meant to fund infrastructure and recreational projects. The district was set up in 2003 and is mostly composed of Teays Valley.
"It's nice to actually be able to see where the money is going and that it's being well utilized," Counts said. "I think it's fantastic."
Reach Kate White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1723.