By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Three sites along Interstate 77 are being considered for the future home of a multi-purpose park that could host equestrian events, fairs and other activities in Mercer County.
In 2006-2007, the development authority started working to create a multi-use center on properties jointly owned by the city of Bluefield, the city of Princeton and the Mercer County Commission. The jointly owned property was later determined to be unsuitable for the project. The development authority later authorized a marketing study to determine whether such a park would be economically feasible. In 2011, this study indicated the project would be feasible if a suitable site in close proximity to utilities, lodging and other amenities could be found.
Several sites have been examined during the five years since the project began, said Janet Bailey, executive director of the Development Authority of Mercer County. The most promising site, located at Exit 14 off I-77, in the vicinity of PikeView High School, has approximately 1,000 acres.
Two other sites in the same vicinity each have approximately 800 acres, Bailey said.
To move the project forward, the authority’s board of directors is considering whether to hire a consultant to oversee it, she said. Everyone who has worked on the park concept has been a volunteer, but a consultant could devote his or her time to it.
“Our development authority executive committee will take that into consideration, and the position would have to be advertised,” Bailey said.
The development authority’s next meeting is on Feb. 19.
When asked why the quest to establish a multi-purpose park has continued for five years, Bailey said finding the necessary funding has been an issue. One of the proposed sites would cost $20 million for the land alone, she said.
The feasibility study, which was updated 18 months ago, indicated there would be “a significant economic boost” to the Mercer County area if a multi-purpose park were created, said Marc Meachum, president of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce.
“A lot of that would be service jobs with motels, restaurants and convenience stores; more retail opportunities than anything else,” Meachum said.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org