UPDATE: Plans for New Coonskin Park Entrance Moving Forward

By: Olivia Fecteau; WSAZ News Staff Email
By: Olivia Fecteau; WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 9/19/13 @ 2 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va (WSAZ) -- New details about the changes at Coonskin Park that will make the 130th Airlift Wing safer.

Kanawha County park officials say they are moving forward with plans on a new entrance to the park.

A pre-fabricated bridge will cross the Elk River near Mink Shoals. It will be built at a different location and then put together at the park.

The current entrance goes right by the armory.

Officials say that creates a security threat and after this week's shooting at the Naval Yard in Washington, DC they don't want to take any chances.

There is no word on when construction on the new entrance will start.

UPDATE 8/28/13 @ 7 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After years of planning, Coonskin Park in Charleston will get a new entrance. It will cost millions of dollars to complete, but officials say it will help secure the future of the West Virginia National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing.

The current entrance to Coonskin Park is close to the Guard's armory, which officials say makes it less secure. The new entrance will be through a bridge into the opposite end of the park, by the current maintenance area. Plans for the project show a bridge coming off Corridor G in Mink Shoals that would cross the Elk River.

"You'll actually come down the interstate and get off right here and go directly into basically the heart of the park," Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission, said. "You'll be right next to the golf course; you'll be right next to the recreation area. We've got to reconfigure some things."

Carper said this will protect the National Guard and allow the base to remain open, keeping the Guard members in Kanawha County.

"Who in the derecho brought in supplies? Who, when you have major floods, protects the whole state of West Virginia?" Carper said. "The answer is the Guard."

Harry Crede, who owns Crede Tractor down the road, said he doesn't think this project is cost effective.

"I just don't think the county commissioners are doing the right thing," Crede said.

Crede said he went to public meetings and suggested the bridge should be put in off Route 114 near Capital High School. It was one of nearly a dozen options.

"They've spent more money condemning and buying up property and surveying and having these meetings," Crede said. "They could have had the road already built and put in."

The final decision was made by the West Virginia Department of Highways and the Guard itself. Carper said of the 11 options, this was the best one, costing the county only $3 million of the estimated $10 million. He added that the Guard brings in $87 million per year, while providing 800 to 900 jobs.

"They do the fire protection for Yeager Airport, saving the county over $2 million," Carper said. "The cost of this is very small, versus the benefit.

Originally, Carper said, the project was scheduled to be paid with federal money, but because of the recession, that changed.

The bridge is scheduled to be completed within the next two years. Carper said the cost could be a little higher or lower than $10 million, depending on what contractor gets the bid to build the bridge. They plan to break ground this fall.

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UPDATE 8/28/13 @ 8 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A new entrance to Coonskin Park is officially in the works.

Kanawha County Commissioners approved a plan that calls for a new entrance for Coonskin Park to be built in order to make the West Virginia National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing more secure.

The existing entrance would be closed and the new entrance will be located in the Mink Shoals area. The bridge will be built over the Elk River near Interstate 79 in Mink Shoals.

Commissioners say the bridge will cost about $10M.

The new entrance is needed because the existing one is too close to the National Guard Armory at Coonskin Park, creating a security risk.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Plans to create a new entrance into Coonskin Park in Charleston are moving forward.

Kanawha County Commissioners support a plan to close the existing entrance of the park and build a new one that will cross the Elk River near Interstate-79 in Mink Shoals.

The new entrance is needed because the existing one is too close to the National Guard Armory at Coonskin Park, creating a security risk.

The National Guard has been Meeting with Senator Robert C. Byrd's Office to see if they can get federal funds for this project.

The County Commission hopes the project can begin next year.

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