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Property switch for Coonskin Park bridge OK'd

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Board of Public Works members approved 13 deed transfers between governmental agencies -- including transferring a parcel of property from the state to the Division of Highways and the state Armory Board to allow construction of an access bridge into Coonskin Park in Charleston.

The board, made up of the six statewide elected officers and the superintendent of schools, approved the transfer without discussion.

The property, on the west bank of the Elk River adjacent to Pennsylvania Avenue (U.S. 119), is needed for the construction of an access bridge to Coonskin Park.

In August, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced that the Division of Highways, Kanawha County Commission, and Yeager Airport had reached an agreement to fund the project, expected to cost $9 million to $11 million.

When completed in 2015, the bridge will replace Coonskin Drive as access to the park. Use of Coonskin Drive will be restricted to the National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing headquarters. U.S. Defense Department officials have repeatedly raised security concerns about Coonskin Drive, and this summer, Maj. Gen. Allen Tackett, retired adjutant general of the state National Guard, warned that the base could be closed unless an alternate public access road to the park was built.

Also Thursday, the board gave final approval to the 2013 assessed value of all property in the state owned by public utilities and railroads.

No utility companies appealed the tentative assessments, which state Property Tax Division director Jeff Amburgey said was unusual.

"That was the first time in many years," he said.

However, the Department of Revenue approved adjustments for companies that filed late or provided additional information, reducing the overall assessed value by $26 million to $9.103 billion.

That's an increase of $152.88 million, driven primarily by construction of natural gas pipelines and cell phone towers around the state.

The higher valuation will mean $3.5 million in additional property taxes paid by the utilities next year, Amburgey said.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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