New skate park, the “Gateway” park on the horizon after the payment of Black Knight | New

The week after the city paid off $ 3 million for the historic Black Knight City Park earlier this month and threw a party in the Black Knight Ballroom to celebrate the tearing of the $ 2.4 banknote million dollars at City National, Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Baker has announced new goals on the horizon for the city’s green space.

Topping the list is a new skate park, estimated to be priced between $ 300,000 and $ 400,000, and plans for a possible proposed “walkway” park to be built near the historic Beckley Mill, pending finalization. federal trust fund the city is planning in September. .

An overall goal is for every park in the city to be accessible to people with physical problems, she added.

“We have worked hard on a global level,” said Baker. “You never get bored. It’s always exciting.”

Baker said she plans to build a new skate park to replace the current Freedom Park on Eisenhower Drive, across from King Tut’s. Freedom Skate Park is not yet 20 years old and was named in the months following the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001.

The skate park has a bowl and the half pipes – the concave slopes – are made of metal.

Baker said most modern skateparks are now completely concrete, with concrete half-spikes. The half pikes have a different look than Freedom Park, she added.

“My next big push will be to modernize and renovate the skate park,” she promised. “This is one of the most popular features of the park.

“Any day of the week, if it isn’t raining heavily, there are children there. Little kids riding bikes, big kids, even adults practicing their skateboarding skills.

“It was done almost 20 years ago, and the guys at (Board of) Public Works did a great job, but you talk about the evolution of technology and the ability of the skaters.

“There is so much more they want to do,” she said. “Our skate park is really run down.”

Based on information in a report from the Recreation Management website, the current Freedom Park – designed specifically for skating – was likely a step forward in skate park design for the time, as many cities were using skate parks. concrete pools and storm water drains as early skateparks.

But skateparks, like skateboards, have since evolved.

“The long, pointed skateboards with wide wheels used when the sport started have given way to faster, lighter and better balanced boards with many options available from board width to wheel size. . engineering brought skateboarding for the ride, “writer Jim Moss reported on the site.” However, skateboards themselves were only part of the evolution of the sport.

“The skateparks they rode on also had a long way to go to keep up with the ever increasing level of expertise of the riders.”

Baker said the standard for a skatepark is concrete construction.

“We have these metal half-pikes,” she said. “Everything is concrete now. There is no metal.

“They have concrete rivers, concrete half pikes. They look totally different.

“We have the bowl, and all the other features are metal or wood elements on it, and that’s not how they’re designed at all now.”

Recreation Management reports that precast concrete was developed for use in skateparks. Precast concrete is stronger and gives skaters more precision.

Baker said she wanted an all-concrete skatepark. The city has applied to Region 1 for the project, which is estimated to cost between $ 300,000 and $ 400,000.

“It’s a pretty expensive project,” she noted.

Another plan for the city’s park system is to build an entrance park, including a dog park, just off the Clarence W. Meadows Memorial Highway (East Beckley Bypass). The $ 8 million project would be built in two phases, Mayor Rob Rappold announced in May, adding that the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority has asked Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito for federal funds to build a visitor center and a town. park in the historic Alfred Beckley Mill area at Piney Gorge.

“It’s also going to take a lot of time and effort, but it will be a wonderful asset for Beckley,” said Baker. “It will be a premier park in the city.”


Baker said that in the mid-1900s a number of parks were erected but then neglected.

“It wasn’t even in the 21st century that parks became known as something that was truly essential to early childhood development,” Baker noted.

Baker said she was committed to bringing the city’s playgrounds up to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards after a friend, Lola Rizer, told Baker that her daughter, who has physical problems, had more difficulty crossing the textured paved area. play equipment. Baker researched and learned that about 12% of children face a physical challenge, and Baker wanted the city’s playgrounds to be accessible to all children.

“There has been a lot of really real thinking, research and data collection that goes into this playground equipment,” she said.

When the 2020 census is released, Baker predicts that more city parks will be eligible for federal “low mod” funding from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The funding will allow modern, ADA-compliant equipment to be placed in the parks.

According to HUD guidelines, low-mod funds can only be spent in parks serving low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. To date, the parks at New River, East Park, Simpkins and Temple have been modernized with modern play equipment and other features, and future upgrades to Scott Park have been the subject of a tender from construction companies, she reported.

“It’s so tempting to use the money from the HUD to work on the parks because it’s there for us if we’re just following the guidelines,” she said. “That’s what we did.

“That’s why some parks seem to get a lot more attention than others: there is someone (HUD) willing to help pay for the renovation, but we also have a plan.

“And, the administration is very open to doing some of the other parks, to upgrade them.”

The city’s 13 additional parks and green spaces include more than 200 acres within the company’s boundaries, as well as 26 buildings and two swimming pools. She said her personal goal was to have an ADA-compliant playground in every park in the city.

“It’s not an essential service, but it’s a cardiac service,” Baker said of Parks and Recreation. “We do the things that make it fun.

“It’s part of an ongoing novel and drama that is Beckley Parks and Recreation,” she added. “We are doing a lot of things.

“We do all of this with 17 full-time employees.”

Historic Black Knight, which the city bought in 2018 from Governor Jim Justice, will get new concrete flooring in the golf cart barn, as well as water. The golf course irrigation system needs upgrading and a bridal suite is being added at Black Knight.

The sequel, which will give the wedding party a place to prepare for Black Knight weddings, is expected to be completed by next year, she said.

At-Large Councilor Sherrie Hunter noted on Saturday that the work of Baker and others is evident in the city’s green space.

“The City of Beckley Parks and Recreation has flourished thanks to the due diligence and collaboration of the City Grants Trustees Angela King and Leslie Baker, as well as the cooperation of the City Department Heads,” said she noted.

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