Carper also said a Walmart at Coonskin Park could jeopardize the future of the 130th Airlift Wing, which could be shut down by federal officials unless public access to the air base and Army and Air Force National Guard facilities is cut off. State and local officials plan to close off Coonskin Drive and provide new access to Coonskin Park from a bridge across the Elk River in the Mink Shoals area.
County officials promised to support efforts for the project and help pay for a new bridge. "We gave our word to the men and women of the [National] Guard, and I intend to keep it," Carper said.
Hardy said he was confident Walmart executives would be able to work with county planning officials to find a suitable site for a new store.
Carper said it would ultimately be up to the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission to decide whether or not to sell Coonskin Park or part of it. "I, for one, am against it," he said.
Parks and Recreation Commission President Anna Dailey and Kanawha County Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson were unavailable on Tuesday.
But Kanawha County Commissioner Hoppy Shores, who also sits on the parks and recreation commission, said he isn't even sure parks officials have the authority to sell part of the park.
Even if they do, Shores doesn't think the property should be used for a store.
"I would oppose putting anything commercial in there," he said. "It's a park, and that's the way it should stay."
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.