CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County parks officials will wait to see how well a contractor suspected of illegally timbering Coonskin Park repairs the damage before proceeding with possible legal action.
Chuck Bailey, an attorney for the Kanawha Parks and Recreation Commission, recommended at a meeting Wednesday that the parks commission hold off filing any kind of lawsuit until David R. Bowen until he has completed remediation efforts he agreed to following a timbering operation inside Coonskin.
Earlier this year, parks officials entered into a verbal agreement with Bowen to clean up storm damage from last year's derecho storm and cut down a few trees near picnic shelters and roads that weren't covered under a cleanup funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Bowen also agreed to pave some sections of road within the park.
However, Bowen allegedly went well beyond the scope of the agreement, allegedly cutting logging roads and felling trees all over the park. State forestry officials have since revoked Bowen's timbering license and ordered him to clean up damage he caused by the alleged timbering operation.
Bowen also agreed to repave sections of road torn up by logging equipment. Paving work began on Tuesday.
So far, Bailey said, he's not impressed with the work. However, he suggested members of the parks board hold off until Bowen is finished with work in the park. Parks officials still aren't sure if they will take Bowen to court.
Parks officials hope to know soon exactly how much damage was done to the park. Forestry officials have finished counting tree stumps, and Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson has identified trees Bowen was actually authorized to cut down. Bailey said that number is only about 9 percent of the trees Bowen allegedly cut.
Cpl. Brian Humphreys of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department, who is conducting a criminal investigation of the alleged timbering operation, said forestry officials told him Bowen cut down more than 350 trees.
Also Wednesday, members of the parks commission voted to move their regular meeting time from the third Wednesday of every month to the third Thursday. The new meeting day will make it easier for parks officials to meet state deadlines on posting public meetings.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.