BEECH BOTTOM – The Third Street Playground has been a center for the Beech Bottom community over the years, but the village went without the park for about a year as it underwent numerous upgrades.
Village officials and residents celebrated its reopening on Saturday with a ribbon cutting involving many children and a community picnic, which is fitting as the two have been common sites there.
While welcoming residents and visitors, Mayor Becky Uhlly noted that crews have worked over the past few months to replace the mulch around playground equipment with a rubbery surface that many attendees described as bouncy. , adding a handicap-accessible swing to the playset, replacing a deteriorating wall with a solid 6-foot one, and removing layers of concrete and asphalt under his basketball court with a concrete surface, installing new posts , panels, hoops and lighting.
Much of the work was under the direction of Triple H Construction of West Union, W.Va., general contractor for the project; with Adventure Turf of Kenosha, Wisconsin providing the new playground base.
Uhlly said an unexpected contributor to the effort was the Flatiron Corp., the builder of the new Ohio River bridge just north of the village, which provided 35 truckloads of dirt needed to level the area occupied by the pitch. basketball.
She estimated that about $452,000 has been invested in the park, not all of which is visible to the public, as new drainage structures have been installed to divert runoff above the park.
Uhlly noted that the project was spurred by an $83,478 grant from the Federal Lands and Conservation Fund, with 100% matching provided by the village.
She added that there was still work to be done, as a local resident, Brian Kzywdik, offered to scratch the basketball court; and a path between the field and the lower playing field between Third Street and C Lane will be paved.
Uhlly said Southwest Energy officials have agreed to repair the corner of Third Street and State Route 2 and widen it to improve the turning radius for large trucks entering it.
Community members participated in marking the reopening of the park in various ways.
Members of Girl Scout Troop 10087 assisted village leaders, distributing programs and performing other tasks.
Many children were recruited to cut the ribbon on the field, which Uhlly said had recently been robbed by former members of Beech Bottom Junior High School’s last basketball team.
The school’s students will attend Brooke High School the following year, and the team came out on a high, finishing with a 25-0 record, she noted.
Uhlly said his teammates traveled from as far away as Las Vegas, North Carolina and Maryland to see their former coach, retired teacher and principal Curt Tarr, and play on the court, along with member Terry Lilly. still living in Beech Bottom, making the first basket.
Among the many in attendance on Saturday were Mary Webster and Florence Cronin, who planted a beech tree which they and their sister, Ellen Saad of El Paso, Texas, donated in memory of their parents, residents longtime James and Alice McMahon.
Joining them for the occasion were the McMahons’ grandchildren, Letitia Ireland and James Cronin; and great-great-granddaughter, Yasmine Demeele.
Councilor Don Hubbard noted that the tree was the inspiration for the village’s name after George Washington observed many of them growing in this area as they passed through it in the late 1700s.
Cronin recalled that the three sisters spent many hours on the playground and enjoyed the swings.
Webster said of the new look of the playground, “It’s fantastic. They’ve done a lot of work here.
Councilor Greg Shepherd said with the playground reopening, there are plans for a community event there on October 15. Local groups 40 Plus and Pocket Change should appear, with further details to be announced.