The Times West Virginian

January 31, 2014

Palatine Park progress means chance for more fun on riverfront

Times West Virginian

— Progress.

There’s one thing to see a conceptual plan on a blown-up piece of cardboard, to host a ribbon-cutting and to talk up how a development will change the area for the better.

There’s that, and then there’s progress.

And anyone who has seen the riverfront surrounding Palatine Park would not be able to dispute the amount of progress that has been made in cutting down trees, clearing brush and tearing down structures.

There’s more to come.

The final construction plan for Palatine Park has been approved by the Marion County Commission, and it’s far more inclusive than the original plan presented to the public in July.

“We’ve reached a milestone on Palatine Park,” Charlie Reese, director of the Marion County Development Authority, told the commission this week. “When you look at the design, it’s going to be better than we ever thought.”

One of the extreme changes to the park includes a parking lot that sits behind the amphitheater. Reese said it could add 50-75 spaces for parking, which will certainly be valuable for visitors, events and when the Division of Natural Resources installs boat ramps along the river.

Reese said the design also includes a banked area in front of the amphitheater to be used as seating for concerts and events.

The design also includes handicap accessibility and emergency vehicle accessibility. Reese said the sidewalks were redesigned to fit the needs of those who are handicapped and to hold emergency vehicles if necessary.

With the completed design in hand and initial work complete, what is left is to get permits and for dirt to start moving.

Reese said the next step is for Thrasher, a civil engineering, design and management firm that created the design, to get permits from the City of Fairmont. Once the permits are taken care of and the weather breaks, he said construction will begin.

And with an aggressive deadline of May 15, Marion County will be enjoying the riverfront of the Monongahela in a way we never have been able to before.

There’s been a great deal of progress toward that goal with no reason to expect that the momentum will slow.