FAIRMONT – Rusty monkey bars, a cracked basketball court and a swing set in the process of falling apart.
These structures make up Norwood Park at the corner of Morgantown Avenue and Suncrest Boulevard on the East Side. While the park is in proximity to the Victory Baptist Church it actually belongs to the City of Fairmont, which a lot of residents don’t realize.
“The Parks Commission has wanted to do something big for a very long time,” said Hanna Turner, marketing and communications and parks coordinator for City of Fairmont. “Such a big project but have it be something that is so needed and very important to all members of the community.”
Monday, officials from the City of Fairmont announced a partnership with the aluminum products manufacturer Novelis to renovate Norwood Park. The city and Novelis officials from Fairmont were joined by the Disability Action Center to discuss plans to be build an all-inclusive park on the site at Norwood Park.
“There’s a lot that needs to be done by the looks of the park,” said Ashley Brenneman, human resources coordinator and neighbor site champion for Novelis. “We’re hoping to get a parking lot paved in the next couple years, possibly connect it to the local Rail Trail that actually runs through our Novelis property and really get it to be an easily accessible park.”
Novelis pledged to match up to $75,000 in funds, which Turner said is needed because of the price of playground equipment. The company will also provide volunteers who will work on the park renovation project.
“The first phase is to at least get the park in and do the ground work which is where a lot of our volunteer hours are going to come from,” Brenneman said. “A lot of our employees will volunteer to come out and do just the basic landscaping, concrete work, that type of thing.”
In addition to the volunteer work of the Novelis employees, the park will in part be completed with the help of the other partner in this initiative, the Disability Action Center.
“It’s been a discussion of Hanna and I with the city for several years now,” said Julie Sole, executive director of the DAC. “We will be getting the word out about the project, promoting it, getting our supporters to volunteer and then we’ll also be doing a fall sub sale that is very successful, and part of the proceeds of the sub sale will go to this project.”
As the leader of a nonprofit that assists individuals with disabilities, Sole regularly takes DAC clients to parks and playgrounds for outdoor exercise, so having a new park specifically designed for people of all abilities will add to the center’s repertoire of trips.
“We will in the future,” Sole said of utilizing Norwood Park. “We have an entire program called GO ‘Get Outdoors,’ that is specifically for leaving the building, going and experiencing nature, being inclusive in our community and participating in all activities that their non-disabled peers participate in. This will be one more step on that.”
According to Turner, the City of Fairmont will be working with Sole to write possible grants to fund the park, and also assisting with its fundraising efforts to complete the project. She also went over some details of the project and said the group will have a more solid idea of the timeline once they get some proposals for the design.
“Our next step, we’re going to get out a Request for Proposals and try to get some designs and concepts from different playground companies,” Turner said. “We’re also working on how to implement all the things we want to do here... We believe that we will have two phases to this project, but if there is some way we can do it all at once, we would love to do that as well.
Turner she hopes to have the park completed by next year.
Turner envisions a new future for Norwood Park, thanks in part to some renderings that display a possible look of the finished product. She said the project is one that could not only entertain local kids and families.
“Norwood Park looks completely different; has a beautiful, colorful, fun playground that is all inclusive,” Turner said. “We would also have a really nice, defined, paved parking lot, a new entrance into the park so there’s not on-street parking anymore but also would love to have this as a destination off of the Rail Trail.”