BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission is planning several upgrades and enhancements to the Upshur County Recreation Park and Pool.
During a series of budget meetings last week, commissioners approved the use of $21,388 in unspent 2020-2021 fiscal year funds that were allocated to the parks department to build a new disc golf course at the Upshur County Recreation Park and add several pool upgrades.
Josh Hinchman, president of the Buckhannon-Upshur Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, requested funds for the disc golf course during budget sessions, which ran from March 13-22.
“Last year, they wanted to build a disc golf course and rely on donations, but most businesses weren’t able to donate because of the pandemic,” Hinchman said. “We were wondering if we could request money from the commission and maybe later down the road, go down and find more sponsorships for other projects. A project like that would be $4,081 based on the last quote I got from the company.”
Commissioner Sam Nolte said he thought it was a good idea to add something everyone could enjoy.
“That would be a nice addition for a lot of people,” Nolte remarked. “I remember a couple years ago we talked about it when a guy from Ohio brought it up. We looked into it and the folks here were kind of older, so they weren’t really that interested. We were working on a project together one day, and he was explaining to me that anyone can play.”
Hinchman said West Virginia is ideal for disc golf courses. Disc golf, sometimes referred to as frisbee golf, is a flying disc sport in which players throw a disc at a target. Players use rules similar to the ones followed in golf, and it’s typically played on a nine- or 18-hole course.
“It’s great in West Virginia. Whenever I was in college in Huntington – there’s only a few courses around the state – and that one was big and people travel all over for each tournament,” Hinchman said. “Marion County has probably one of the busiest ones in our area; they have tournaments constantly, usually monthly up there, and they have several courses.”
As part of the $21,388, Assistant Upshur County Administrator Tabatha Perry requested funds to purchase two additional 12-foot umbrellas, two floatable creatures, a cross bar water feature and three flower gongs for the regular pool and baby pool.
“We are all very excited by the two floatable creatures that will be installed towards the front of the pool in the three-foot area,” Perry said. “They are bright and colorful, and the kids seem to enjoy climbing and balancing on top of them.”
Perry said the baby pool area has needed new additions for a while, and families would appreciate something new.
“Now, the regular pool will have these great floatables, but these poor toddlers just have Wanda the Fish, and they are probably sick of Wanda,” Perry said. “We came up with an idea that if you purchase the cross bar – you’d approve the purchase this (budget) year – but Greg (Harris, county facilities and maintenance director) wouldn’t be able to install it until the fall.”
Perry said they considered converting the baby pool into a splash pad, but that process would be too expensive. However, the cross bar could be easily incorporated if they ever have enough funds to make a splash pad.
The three flower gongs will give children something to do when they are not in the pool and will also provide a pop of color.
“When you go into the baby pool, there’s Wanda, and there is the little grassy area, which would be great for these flowers,” Perry told the commissioners during budget hearings. “They are gongs, and you play music. They’re colorful, vibrant, and the kids can play their little songs. It’s something simple but fun.”
Upshur County Administrator Carrie Wallace said the county could afford these upgrades because the pool was not open last summer due to the pandemic.
“We actually go in the hole every year for Parks and Rec, so it’s not a money-making entity for us,” Wallace said. “When you don’t open the pool, there’s a savings of money, so that’s what enabled them to go ahead and move forward with those enhancements.”
The commission also allocated $14,000 in the upcoming fiscal year 2021-2022 budget to be used for capital improvements during next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2022. Perry said the commission will be working closely with the Advisory Board to prioritize needs at the Recreational Park and will prepare recommendations to present to the commission before spending the funds.
Commissioners have not yet voted on a date to reopen the Upshur County Recreational Park Pool.