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Public shares ideas for Wellsburg’s four parks

IDEAS SHARED — Mayor Dan Dudley and several residents were asked to view photos of each of Wellsburg’s four parks and suggest improvements and additions for them at an informal forum held Friday by Johanna Weiler of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle and Angela Staffileno, a utilities clerk for the city. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — Several community members were asked what improvements and additions could be made to Wellsburg’s four parks at an informal forum held Friday by Johanna Weiler of the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle and Angela Staffileno, a utilities clerk for the city.

The two brought along photos of the 1st Ward and 4th Ward parks, Central Park and the Betty Carr Recreation Site near 18th Street for the group that gathered in the Wellsburg Kiwanis Shelter in the latter park.

Among attendees who surveyed the photos for ideas was Mayor Dan Dudley.

Each also was given surveys asking them to rate the parks’ current features and rate potential new ones, such as soccer fields, ice skating rinks, volleyball courts and special events.

After holding a similar session for youth, the two asked adults only to attend Friday’s.

Staffileno said a common request between both groups is more lighting so the parks may be used at night and vandalism would not be the recurring problem that it is.

She said city personnel recently found several picnic tables in the shelter overturned and at least one damaged, and she feels such incidents are less likely to occur if the parks are used more regularly.

“We want to find ways to bring more people in so stuff like that doesn’t happen,” said Staffileno.

Resident Frank Johnson suggested motion-sensitive lights would be an economical way to shed light on potential vandals.

Many of the adults agreed most of the parks’ playground equipment was in poor condition and could be replaced.

They noted the current metal slides are unpleasant on hot summer days and could be replaced with plastic ones, while swings are absent at the 1st Ward Park.

Also suggested was a large playground structure, with slides, ladders for climbing and other features.

When it was suggested the shelter at the 1st Ward Park could use a grill, Dudley said he plans to donate one.

In recent years city officials and volunteers have made improvements to the parks.

Members of New Day Christian Center have refurbished the shelter at the 4th Ward Park and conducted craft sessions for children there.

Second Ward Councilman Paul Billiard, who chairs the city’s park and recreation committee, worked with others to install an ice skating rink for the winter only but it also suffered from vandalism.

Volunteers with the Wellsburg Baseball and Softball Association have been involved in upgrading the ball fields at the Betty Carr Recreation Site, with new batting cages, concession and restroom facilities and lighting and a water line among their plans.

The late former mayor Sue Simonetti secured a state grant to spruce up Central Park with lighting, benches and flowers at its center.

The park has been the site of several free community concerts held as part of the Wellsburg 4th of July Committee’s citywide festivities and Christmas decorations set up by Billiard and members of the Wellsburg Lions Club.

A few adults attending the forum suggested low-key events with food trucks and acoustic music would appeal to many in their own age group.

Many also recalled as children, enjoying activities coordinated by park supervisors employed by the summer for the city. They included local teens and Betty Carr, a schoolteacher who oversaw them.

Dudley told of learning to toss horseshoes at the 1st Ward Park from adults in his neighborhood, noting the activity is not that much different from the corn hole games of today.

“You’ve got to get people involved in something everybody can do — kids and adults who can teach them,” he suggested.

A 4th Ward resident said the federal grant secured years ago for the city’s swimming pool, closed after it was damaged by a flood, stipulated the 4th Ward Park always be used for a water-based attraction.

A splash pad was suggested as one way that condition could be met.

Others suggested a community center would provide indoor recreational and social opportunities for teens, noting the Kiwanis Shelter once was the site of outdoor teen dances.

Weiler and Staffileno plan to share such suggestions with city officials for their consideration.

But until then, they welcome others who didn’t attend the forum but also are willing to complete the surveys to contact Weiler at jweiler@bhbdc.com.

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