By CHELSI BAKER
FAIRMONT (AP) —
The end is near.
“The project will be done, and we’re going to move forward,” said Marion County Commission president Butch Tennant. “This is something great for Marion County here today.”
A group gathered at Palatine Park along the Monongahela River on March 18 for its official groundbreaking, which was followed by lunch at the Marion County Election Center.
County commission members and Thrasher Group representatives put shovel to earth after thanking those involved with the park’s progress, from engineers to those who helped clear the area of wood and debris.
This is just the beginning of what’s to happen, Tennant said.
The county, which acquired the property from the City of Fairmont and CSX Railroad Co., plans to put a splash park, boat ramp, parking lot and restrooms along the water, along with a possible ice skating rink in the fall and winter months, to accompany the amphitheater that’s currently there.
A playground, handicap-accessible structures and a seating area along the bank will also be included.
Tennant said the county will sponsor a Fourth of July celebration at the park, and he anticipates the splash park will bring in a large crowd.
“Since we started, we’ve had people down here all summer, just eating (lunch) or sitting around,” he said. “With the splash park, I just think it’ll be great.”
He hopes Palatine Park will bring people and further private and commercial development in the area, creating jobs.
“Fairmont is really the only river town that hasn’t developed the riverfront, so the Marion County Commission is going to step forward and develop this park for everybody in the county,” he said.
Construction on the park, with the possible exception of the paved parking lot, is set to finish in May, and the ribbon cutting will be held May 15, Tennant said.
Thrasher Group, a civil engineering, design and management firm out of Bridgeport, won the engineering-architect contract in November and has since been developing plans.
The construction plan was finalized in January.
Tennant said they hope to have the park ready for the West Virginia Three Rivers Festival.
The splash park is set to be delivered April 1, which will push for an aggressive development schedule, he said.
“We have to get some ground ready quick,” he said.
Chelsi Baker writes for Times West Virginian