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Don Nestor, a member of the Rotary Club of Buckhannon Upshur, addresses the Consolidated Public Works Board at its meeting this week. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

City’s South Florida Street park to close due to lack of use

BUCKHANNON – The Harley Brown Rotary Park on South Florida Street will be closed due to dwindling use June 30.

The Consolidated Public Works Board discussed the park at 196 South Florida Street during their April 27 meeting, and city officials said the Buckhannon Parks & Recreation Advisory Board thought it best to close the seldon-utilized area and remove the playground equipment that’s currently there.

Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur member Don Nestor attended the board’s early-morning meeting to say Rotary had established the park about 20 years ago because that end of town did not have a park nearby.

“There were no parks on that side of town, and there are kids; I know there’s been issues over time, keeping up with it and lighting it, and I am wondering if there is a need for a park there,” Nestor said. “I know you’re trying to be as economical as you can, but if you close that down, does that mean we won’t have any parks in that area?”

The Harley Brown/Rotary Park at the corner of Wood and Florida streets. / My Buckhannon file photo from early 2022

Mayor Robbie Skinner said that area of town would be getting a new park area attached to the Elizabeth J. “Binky” Poundstone Riverwalk Trail.

“The other evening, the Parks and Recreation Board discussed that when that park was originally created, the Riverwalk trail had not expanded so much, so the river trail access point is just right there now; you can get on the river trail and with the city’s property swap with the college, we’re going to create a park-like atmosphere just to the right of the river boat launch area,” Skinner said.

“There’s a basketball court there now – the college previously owned that property, and it was not maintained – so now we own that property just to the left of the softball field,” he added.

Skinner said the area to the right of the boat ramp area is where a new park space will be located.

“We are going to create a park-like atmosphere there that connects to the Riverwalk trail,” Skinner said. “Our Parks and Recreation Board has audited each individual park, and when they went to that park, some neighbors came out to talk to them and said no one has been in that park in two or three years.”

Skinner said the city has several parks to maintain, and they want to focus on the areas with higher attendance.

“We know the Rotary Club was gracious enough to create that park, but after creation, it’s just been up to the city to maintain, and we now are up to seven or so parks, which is a lot to maintain,” Skinner said. “If we are adding, creating, moving around and updating, we want to put all our resources into parks that are heavily used. That was the reasoning — maybe we don’t continue that park, but we consolidate it with more of the Riverwalk trail area.”

Skinner asked Nestor if the Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur would be interested in taking part in creating the new space once that process began.

“I think Rotary would be pleased to be part of something like that because that was our concern — that there were no park spaces in the southern end of town,” Nestor said.

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