CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Now that the first phase of the East End Community Park is nearly finished, Jim Edwards hopes to build a walking track around its perimeter, too.
"What we're hoping to do is take advantage of the fact the contractor is still on the site, cleaning up loose ends," said Edwards, director of the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority.
Edwards plans to ask CURA board members this morning to spend some extra money to build the track as part of what he calls "Phase 1A" of the East End Community Park. CURA has already provided most of the money to buy property along Dixie and Nancy streets, and to design and begin to build the long-awaited neighborhood park.
A visit to the site Tuesday showed that contractor McClanahan Construction has installed most of the "hardscape." It includes a wide walk that leads from the main entrance off Dixie Street, beneath an arched sign, to a semi-circular shade space that can serve as a stage for outdoor performances.
In between there are raised planters, concrete benches, black pole lamps and landscaped beds with pre-poured pads made for future sculptures.
The rest of the park, including the large open space in the rear formerly known as "Hobo Jungle," looks decidedly shabby by comparison. Tall weeds, straggly trees, uneven ground, piles of dirt, old telephone poles, stacks of wooden pallets and other construction debris litter the site.
The contractors are using a space to the left of the entrance -- the future site of a planned sprayground and skate park -- as a staging area for their equipment and construction trailer.
Everything will be fixed before the park's opening later this year, Edwards said.
"They're working on some drainage issues that they need to do before final landscaping," he said. "All that needs to be neatened up. It's just a question of when. If we're able to give them the go-ahead on the Stage 1a trail, they will continue to use that as their staging area.