The Times West Virginian

Opinion

June 27, 2014

County makes big ‘splash’ by improving Palatine Park

Summer — They call it the “season of forgetting.”

That’s an educational term that refers to the months a child isn’t intellectually stimulated or actively learning, forcing educators to reteach information learned the previous school year.

That’s certainly an issue. And hopefully it’s an issue we can address in the system.

But on a more positive note, we believe that summer is also the season to remember. Think back to your childhood. How many of your fondest and happiest memories took place during the long summer days — playing outside, swimming, hanging out with friends, vacations, riding bikes?

It feels like kids these days don’t value catching fireflies in jars as much as they enjoy catching the “bad guy” in a video game or hanging out with friends as much as following their every move on their Instagram feeds.

We as parents have to encourage healthy activities and spending some time outside in the fresh air and the sunshine.

And we’re thankful that we live in a community that values the benefits of outdoor recreation. And fun.

On Wednesday, a celebration was held for the opening of the Palatine Splash Park, just one completed piece of a large-scale plan to develop the Monongahela riverfront on Fairmont’s East Side. The splash park has been open for a few weeks now, bringing delight to hundreds of young ones who can move from one water feature to another, cool off during the warm days and use a lot of that pent-up energy.

But it wasn’t a “stuffy” ribbon-cutting ceremony. Sunblock was passed out to those who attended. Children were given buckets filled with chips and snacks and drinks. And instead of a line of officials and dignitaries with a ceremonial ribbon and oversized scissors, Marion County and state officials including Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin lined up on the stage of the Palatine Park amphitheater and threw out bright green Frisbees and rubber football to the crowd in celebration of the grand opening of Palatine Park and the new splash park.

The fun display matched what county officials are trying to bring to the area — a fun place to bring your family and enjoy an afternoon or an evening. And the splash park being celebrated is just one piece of the puzzle. “Having a park like this, it creates a good quality of life,” Tomblin said.“It’s a place for our children to come and play because they’re our future.”

The renovations of Palatine Park began on March 17 with Thrasher Engineering taking on the construction of the project. Crews worked seven days a week to meet deadlines and to have the park ready for the Three Rivers Festival, which was on May 22.

The cost of the renovations to date is around $1 million. And there are many more plans, including a $400,000 investment by the state to bring in a boat ramp and docks for those who enjoy water activities along the Mon. There are also plans to develop the rail-trail system within the city limits, eliminating the two-mile gap between the trail that extends from behind the Big Lots plaza on the West Side to Morgantown Avenue on the East Side. We want to commend the county and its officials for having a vision and for moving beyond the paper plans to bring quality recreational facilities to the city and county. We know this is just the tip of the iceberg of a multi-million dollar development, which will hopefully bring in private investment that will far surpass any public investment made.

But in the mean time, we’ll enjoy the “splash” the county has made with the major improvements to Palatine and look forward to many more.

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