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A floral installation at the Elizabeth J. 'Binky' Poundstone Riverwalk Trail

Most participants in Riverwalk survey want to see it connected to larger trail system

BUCKHANNON – A survey conducted by the City of Buckhannon’s summer intern found that most people had positive responses to the Elizabeth J. “Binky” Poundstone Riverwalk and a few suggestions to make it better.

Josh Trent, city hall’s summer intern, conducted two surveys during his time with the city and the first was to get opinions about the Riverwalk.

“I’m currently an MBA student at Wesleyan, in my last semester,” Trent said. “Classes have already started – we’re online, and I needed an internship this summer that would be challenging and teach me some lessons and give me some experience.”

The Riverwalk survey had 332 responses with 15 questions. One question asked people how they utilize the Riverwalk.

“Walking, jogging and dog-walking tend to be the most popular, and we added in scooter riding and biking as well, and some other free responses we got were playing ball, fishing and even birding,” Trent said. “I have friends that actually go birding, and I didn’t know that was a thing.”

His research showed the Riverwalk is most popular in the evening, between 6 and 9 p.m., with the morning being the second most popular between 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the afternoon being the least popular.

“The summer is the most popular, and winter is the least when it’s cold outside, but it did surprise me [the Riverwalk] was used more in the fall than the spring. I just thought that was interesting,” Trent said. “I figured people would want to get out in the spring.”

Of the 332 responses, 102 people go the Riverwalk about once a week, 184 people go a few times a week and about 40 people go every day.

“Eighty-three percent of people wanted to see a connection onto the trails system and of those people, almost 150 people chose the mountain biking trail at the high school,” Trent said.

“The big question that I had was what people disliked about the Riverwalk, and there’s a lot of comments, so I made a list of the 10 I saw most frequently,” he added.

The list included a need for more trash pickup along walkways; sometimes people do not feel safe and it needs more policing; lighting along walkways; uneven pathways; restrooms and stops undermaintained; no play area for kids; walkway traffic and flow; vegetation does not allow for a view of the river; and a lack of drinking fountains.

“All that being said, people generally love the Riverwalk,” Trent said. “We had a lot more positive comments than we did negative …there’s more responses for the ‘what do you like about the Riverwalk?’ question, than the ‘what do you dislike about the Riverwalk?’”

The next survey he arranged asked people how they felt the city communicated during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“This one had a higher completion rate, but it only had 66 total responses,” Trent said. “I spent about the same amount of time, but I guess it just didn’t catch as much interest,” Trent said. “The most skipped question was ‘what could the city improve upon during another shutdown?’ so, you can take that as a good sign – you guys did a good job because people didn’t really have anything to say.”

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