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Build a park and/or playground.

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Create Buckhannon, city government, and other organizations joined forces to build Buckhannon’s new Jawbone Park. Every warm-weather Friday, Create Buckhannon puts on “Festival Fridays” in the farmers’ market pavilion featuring local foods and local musicians. Photo: Kate Long

 

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Jawbone Park used to be an unsightly, little-used, crumbling parking lot.

Buckhannon’s Jawbone Park, with its farmers market and tree-lined square, used to be a crumbling, little-used parking lot. Community volunteers and the city workers transformed it: the Create Buckhannon group, city council, the Development Authority, civic groups, West Virginia Wesleyan students and churches.

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West Virginia Wesleyan students and community volunteers planted 22 donated trees in the new Jawbone Park.

West Virginia has wonderful large parks like Huntington’s Ritter Park or Oglebay Park. But this page is about creation of smaller community parks in communities that maybe can’t afford an elaborate park.

For Jawbone Park, Create Buckhannon members helped write a federal grant and donated architectural drawings. They secured enough community donations for 22 good-sized trees. “They were in the ground within another week,” said Create Buckhannon facilitator C.J. Rylands. “College students helped.”

The park is now home to the farmers market and “Festival Friday” music events. “That kind of public-private cooperation doesn’t happen often, but it should,” Rylands said.

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Ronceverte built a skate park in its riverfront park, with the help of a combination of private grants. (Photo: Kate Long)

About 95 miles away, the little town of Ronceverte (population about 1,800) created a 20-acre park complex along the river, with three ball fields, picnic shelters, concert pavilion, river access, tennis courts, and skate park. “Kids helped raise the money for the skate park,” said town planner Doug Hylton, a retiree who moved back to his hometown. “Now we’re trying to figure out how to build a pedestrian bridge across the railroad tracks so people can walk from the town center to the park.

“It’s enormously satisfying to work with people on creating these kinds of things for your community,” he said. “It’s good for our health, and it’s good for economic development.”

In Morgantown, Sam Zizzi, professor of exercise physiology agrees. “In Japan,” he said, “the government subsidizes parks as preventative medicine. They understand the health value of relaxing in a natural setting.”

 

 

Want more/better parks and playgrounds in your community?

 

Support and build on the parks you have:

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The BOPARC Web site (Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners of Morgantown) shows the variety of events Parks and Recreation programs can host. All communities don’t have Morgantown resources, but check it out for ideas!

 

 

 

 

 

The Buckhannon and Ronceverte parks are substantial undertakings, but:

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  • Parks don’t have to be big. This tiny park on Lewisburg’s main street doubles as a way for kids to cool down in the summer. These kids splashing in the fountain came in their bathing suits with their grandmother.
Hamlin K-8 work day-2
  • Park/playgrounds don’t have to be expensive. You can build a “natural playground” for less than $10,000, using natural materials and local volunteers. Here are some of dozens of volunteers helping build the natural playground and trail at Hamlin K-8 in Lincoln County. For more information about natural playgrounds, see http://keys4healthykids.com/new-page/ and http://www.naturalearning.org.
Hamlin K-8 work day-2
  • Playgrounds don’t have to be outdoors. Here’s an indoor playground at the Charleston Town Center Mall, where kids climb over giant vegetables. Sponsored by Charleston Area Medical Center and KEYS 4HealthyKids. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/3/prweb10489442.htm PHOTO
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  • Parks can be for dogs. Huntington’s dog park is built on a hillside that gives dogs and owners a workout. There are benches and a running trail for the humans and more than an acre for dogs to run.
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Helpful resources:

 

Lewis Park

The town of St. George in Tucker County, like dozens of other communities, has created a charming multi-use park with swings, pavilions, playing field, etc., next to a river access point. (Photo, Kate Long)

 

 

Ideas for funding and practical help:

 

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Huntington’s Ritter Park is an invitation for kids to be active in many ways. (Photo courtesy KEYS 4HealthyKids)

3 Comments

  1. I am looking to build a park in San Antonio, Texas. Any helpful resources will be appreciate. Furthermore, I’m working hand and hand with community to make this happen. The city would definitely benefit from this great opportunity, especially, the children.

    • Thanks for your post, Donell. As it happens, we are beefing up our parks and playgrounds page over the holidays. Check again after the New Year for even more resources.

  2. I had the same problem in my town; the park was either undeveloped or devoted to youth sports. I solved this by building a nature trail in one of the forested places in the park. This was meant to help residents of the town to get outside and enjoy nature, and also utilize my town’s beautiful recreation area. I hope my project can help solve other similar issues!
    See my trail here:
    And the information packet I created here:

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