UPDATE: Ribbon cutting celebrated at Shawnee Sports Complex

(WSAZ)
Published: Apr. 4, 2017 at 4:37 PM EDT
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UPDATE 7/10/18 @ 11:20 p.m.

Soccer action kicked off Tuesday at the newly renovated Shawnee Sports complex.

Kanawha County commissioners and other community leaders cut the ribbon on the multimillion project that Commissioner Ben Salango proposed in February 2017.

Salango says they've already booked at least five sports tournaments where teams will come in from West Virginia and beyond to play. He believes those events alone will bring in more than $32 million to the region – with families and their athletes filling up hotels and eat at restaurants in the Kanawha Valley.

“I think the economic development, it's yet to be seen how well this is going to do because there are so many people who are excited about this,” said Deitrich Clark, a soccer mom and board member. “And we travel all over the East Coast and to think that we have people to come to us is amazing. Every place we have gone that has heard about this is excited about coming.”


UPDATE 6/21/18 @ 11:20 p.m.

Kanawha County Commissioners have approved funding for a 24/7 security system to be installed at the new Shawnee Sports Complex.

The system will include security cameras placed around the park and video monitors.

The complex will be monitored all the time by the Kanawha County Metro 911 Center.

The total cost for the new system is $120,000, and the Kanawha County Commission will be paying for the system.

The grand opening for the new complex is planned for July 10.


UPDATE 5/10/18 @ 3:43 p.m.

It won't be long until people will be able to play basketball at the new Shawnee Sports Complex.

Kanawha County Commissioners announced Thursday that they will be opening the basketball courts on Tuesday.

To welcome the first pick up games they'll have an opening ceremony at 6 p.m.

"We are so excited to open the courts earlier than expected. I am looking forward to seeing the kids out there playing. That's what this project is all about," said Commissioner Ben Salango.

The four courts that will open Tuesday are updates to the original courts at Shawnee Park. But they do have new, state-of-the-art basketball hoops.

Commissioners say a full-size championship basketball court with bleachers will be added in the coming months.


UPDATE 5/1/18 @ 4:21 p.m.

Kanawha County Commissioners and the City of Dunbar have selected a construction company to start improvements at the Shawnee Park Pool.

On Tuesday, they announced that Shamblin Construction of Sissonville submitted the low bid on the project. It will cost the county $189,000 to paint and repair the pool surface, walls and bottom.

The company will also repair the aging filter system for $44,500.

"We listened to the community – and the pool was a top priority. The County Commission is excited to make more than $230,000 in much needed improvements to the pool," stated Commissioner Carper.

Some of the funding for the pool renovations are coming from the 2017 building permit fee paid by US Methanol for its new plant in Institute.

On Wednesday, commissioners will showcase the construction work done so far at the new Shawnee Sports Complex.

They say the artificial turf is scheduled to be installed starting on May 15.

UPDATE 03/21/18 @ 3 p.m.

Despite the winter weather, work continues on the new Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex in Dunbar on Wednesday.

The Kanawha County Commission posted a photo of the progress on it's Facebook Page.

The photo shows the beginning of a one-mile loop that will circle the complex.

The loop is included in phase one of the $10.2m project that includes leveling out the property, adding six soccer fields and a youth development center.

The goal is to have the park open by July 2018.


UPDATE 12/28/17 @ 4:45 p.m.

The dirt is moving on the new multi-sports complex at Shawnee Park.

On Thursday, the Kanawha County Commission and Hayslett Construction joined community members to celebrate the project's start.

They even had some kids out playing soccer on the old golf course that will soon be turned into turf fields.

Phase one is a $10.2 million project that includes leveling out the property, adding six soccer fields and a youth development center.


UPDATE 12/20/17 @ 11 p.m.

Some extra money in the bank means you'll see more change coming soon at the Shawnee Park Multi-Sports complex.

On Wednesday, the Kanawha County Commission officially approved a $10.2 million bid by Hayslett Construction, located in Hurricane.

As a bonus, they're able to get more than just the soccer fields completed in phase one.

Now, the first project will also include ground leveling, soccer fields, baseball and softball fields and a community building.

While a groundbreaking date hasn't been set, it's expected soon.


UPDATE 12/14/17 @ 10:51 p.m.

Two big steps for the development of the Shawnee Park Multi-Sports complex happened Thursday.

During the Kanawha County Commission meeting, Hayslett Construction of Hurricane was awarded the project contract.

The company submitted the lowest qualified bid at nearly $8.7 million.

When finished the sports complex will feature six soccer and lacrosse fields, four baseball and softball fields, as well as several practice fields.

There will also be updates to the basketball court and existing swimming pool area. And a new community building, along with new playgrounds and shelters will be added too.

Facilities director Katie Arthur said, "We've heard amazing things about Hayslett. They're a family-owned company and we've heard the owners get out there and do a lot of the work ... So, we're just excited to get started."

During the commission meeting, the winning design from the sports complex logo contest was also revealed.

The logo was designed by Jasmin Settle, a student at Capitol High School. She won the $1,000 scholarship for her homeroom.

Her design will be the main one featured on signs and marketing materials related to the complex.

A runner-up was also announced during the commission meeting.

Dalton Lucas won a $500 scholarship for his design.

Shawnee Park officials say it will be incorporated into some of the marketing materials and will be made into a sign that will be featured at the facility.

The contest was open to all middle and high school students in Kanawha County and more than 100 logos were submitted.


UPDATE 12/13/17 @ 4:45 p.m.

Bids have been received for construction on the Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex in Institute, the Kanawha County Commission says.

The bid opening took place Wednesday at the County Commission courtroom.

Seven bids were submitted. Hayslett Construction of Hurricane, West Virginia, submitted the apparent lowest bid of nearly $8.7 million.

The Kanawha County Commission will meet Thursday to award the project contract.

Winner of Shawnee Logo Design Contest also to be announced at Thursday's meeting.

Commissioners have said the multi-sport park, which would include soccer facilities, will be a significant economic boost for the region.


UPDATE 9/5/17 @ 10:30 a.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kanawha County Commissioners have voted to move forward with building the new Shawnee Sports Complex at Shawnee Park in Institute.

The commission voted after a public hearing early Tuesday morning.

Commissioners say the latest test results found the soil where the complex will be built is clean from chemicals. Commissioners say the test results mean there is no danger to the public.

The testing became necessary after contamination from the Dow Chemical plant was found beneath the surface of West Virginia State University; Shawnee Park's next door neighbor.

The tests completed last month were for ground water, soil, gas, ambient air and soil vapor.

Commissioners announced Tuesday as a precaution, there will be constant monitoring for chemical pollutants during construction.

Bids for the project are expected to go out sometime in mid-October. Then, construction would start on the multi-million dollar multi-sport complex in November.

Commissioners say they already have an event scheduled for the multi-sports complex in August 2018.

Also during Tuesday's meeting, commissioners voted to increase the county’s real estate property excise tax to one-percent on every $100 for transfer of party. For example, if someone sells property worth $100,000, the seller would owe the county $100.

Commissioners say the money will go towards the county’s jail bill, which costs about $5M a year.

Commissioners also announced Tuesday the county will pay off the new Coonskin Bridge earlier than expected.

The new entrance located about a mile east of the Mink Shoals exit off Interstate-79 opened in 2015.

The bridge costs $6.2M and was paid for by the state and county.

The county currently owes $1.5M on the bridge, but will save $300,000 by paying it off early.


UPDATE 9/4/17 @ 11:20 p.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Plans for a total revamp of a park in the region are now closer to reality.

On Tuesday, Kanawha County Commissioners will hold a public hearing to explain test results that are back from the future site of the Shawnee Sports Complex.

Commissioner Ben Salango said on Monday those final test results for chemicals are clean. That means the county is headed in the direction to start an all-new multi-million dollar multi-sport complex.

Commissioners say the test results mean there is no danger to the public. The testing became necessary after contamination from the Dow Chemical plant was found beneath the surface of West Virginia State University; Shawnee Park's next door neighbor.

The tests completed were for ground water, soil, gas, ambient air and soil vapor. They all came back clean.

This all means many golfers are one step closer to saying goodbye to their favorite course, making for a mixed reaction to the results.

"It's a shame to lose the golf course ... it's been around for a lot of years .. but that's good for the children who are going to be playing on it -- we want to keep them safe," said Tim Pauley.

Commissioners say the latest testing was the second round of chemical analyses since July. They did multiple tests searching for multiple chemicals and to be sure the results were accurate.

The public hearing will be in the Kanawha County Commission Courtroom on Tuesday at 8 a.m.

County officials hope to break ground on the project by November and hope to open the new-look park in July 2018.


UPDATE 5/23/17 @ 7:40 p.m.

DUNBAR, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kanawha County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to move forward with a multi-million renovation project at Shawnee Regional Park.

"This will enable us now to move forward with the operational structure," Commissioner Ben Salango said. "Also we can start working on obtaining financing, getting grants, getting donations and coming up with the board to oversee the nonprofit that will help with the donation aspect of it."

Commissioners say the project is contingent on a few conditions.

Most notably, favorable results of a groundwater and soil study. Dow Chemical will pay for the testing after leaders at West Virginia State announced contamination below the campus, which is just a stone's throw from the park.

Commissioners say, based on what they've seen, they're cautiously optimistic there won't be an issue.

"If the testing comes back and the experts tell us there are issues, then we will deal with that at that point," Salango said.

Salango says Shawnee is the only location where a complex of this magnitude can be built in Kanwaha County. There is no backup option.

The proposed changes at the park would include new fields for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse, but it would remove the golf course.

They hope to start the project by fall. It is expected to cost $15.2 million.

Salango says project leaders hope to have two, six-day tournaments in 2019 and 2020 that, combined, would bring $32 million in economic impact to Dunbar and the surrounding areas.


UPDATE 5/16/17 @ 5 p.m.

DUNBAR, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A vote on a multi-million dollar sports complex in Dunbar is expected Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a second public hearing and open house concerning the future of Shawnee Regional Park took place Tuesday.

People from the county gathered Tuesday evening at the Walker Convocation Center at West Virginia State.

The proposed changes at the park would include new fields for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse, but it would remove the golf course.

Kanawha County Parks and Rec officials are expected to vote on the plan at their meeting Wednesday.


UPDATE 4/5/17 @ 11 p.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Kanawha County officials have a decision to make that could change the sporting landscape in our region.

In the coming weeks, commissioners will vote on whether or not to build a state-of-the-art sports complex at Shawnee Regional Park in Dunbar. The catch, though, is that it would mean getting rid of the beloved golf course.

Wednesday, neighbors supporting the park and others supporting the golf course met for a public hearing.

Many youth players and coaches, who would be playing on the new fields, showed up in jerseys; while regulars at the Shawnee golf course came in their best golf attire.

Among the supporters of the change is Commissioner Ben Salango, who says the project could cost from $10 to $15 million.

But, Salango says, the park would bring $1 million into the local economy for every 100-team tournament hosted.

Local youth sports administrators, like Adam Arthur of the Charleston Football Club, a soccer organization for children ages 5-18, say having such a facility would be an invaluable opportunity for young athletes.

"The kids deserve it," Arthur said. "The opportunity ... to invest themselves into something and be passionate about something and have the facilities that the other states have that they don't have, that they travel five, six hours to go to."

Still, senior golfers, like Terry Parsons, say Shawnee's course is the only one flat enough for them to enjoy.

"It's easy to walk, that's how I get my exercise is walking it," Parsons said. "I appreciate the children's perspective, I have three grandsons ... but old men need their field too."

Salango says commissioners will not vote on the complex until an economic study on the plan is complete in about a month.

In addition to the new fields, the new complex would feature a 1-mile walking path, re-done basketball courts, new shelters and more parking spaces.


ORIGINAL STORY 4/4/17 @ 5 p.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A public hearing is scheduled Wednesday evening about the proposed renovation of Shawnee Park in Dunbar.

A multi-sports complex has been suggested there after economic studies have shown it would be beneficial.

The study shows that the youth travel sports industry generates more than $7 billion in the U.S. annually. Furthermore, it determined that Kanawha County is within a three- to four-hour drive of large cities including Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Lexington and Louisville.

Situated on 127 acres of flat land, Shawnee Park was identified in the study as an “outstanding opportunity” for a multi-sports complex.

According to further studies, a 100 team travel tournament would generate nearly $1 million in spending by travel teams. A 300-team tournament, meanwhile, would generate $3 million in spending.

“If we host eight to 10 of these tournaments per year in the various sports, there will be a tremendous economic benefit to Kanawha County,” said County Commissioner Ben Salango.

Salango added that renovation of Shawnee Park will also benefit the local community. He said it will focus on development that will enhance community use of the park’s pool, shelters, and green space.

There is also a non-economic benefit, according to Salango. When the fields are not hosting travel tournaments, they will be used by local sports teams, he said, adding that sports build self-esteem, teamwork and promote health. He said it also helps keep kids out of trouble.

Salango said renovation of Shawnee Park will also benefit the local community, explaining that it would enhance the use of the park’s pool, shelters, and green space.

The public hearing is scheduled at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the old courtroom at 409 Virginia St. in Charleston.