WELLSBURG - After working several months to establish a natural gas well at Brooke Hills Park, crews are slated to begin the next phase next week.
Jacque Bland, media relations specialist for Chesapake Energy Corp., confirmed some time next week crews will begin hydraulic fracturing the two wells created at the site.
Bland said the work will take two to three weeks because the company doesn't plan to do it on weekends.
Janice McFadden, the park's manager, said, "They're working with us to keep it on weekdays because of shelter rentals and other activities there on the weekends."
The process involves pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, mixed with sand and various chemicals, into the underground Marcellus shale to release the gas.
The operation is expected to involve hundreds of trucks that will travel through the park, so plans call for the work to be done mostly at night and on weekdays.
Before drilling began, crews with Chesapeake widened and paved the park's entrance road and extended it to the drilling site at the rear of the park near Pearce Run.
McFadden said Chesapeake has worked around the park's activities since it began operations there last fall. As an example, she said it scheduled its operations around the Brooke County Fair and Brooke Hills Spooktacular.
McFadden said the operations are expected to be completed anywhere from October to two years from now.
The Brooke County Park and Recreation Commission, which oversees the park, has received $750,000 for signing a lease allowing Chesapeake to drill on nearly 100 acres at the park.
The park will receive 18 percent of royalties on about 90 acres, with other royalties going to descendants of the W.C. Gist family, which retained mineral rights to a portion of the land donated to the county for the park.
Park officials don't know how much they will receive through the royalties, because the quantity of gas at the site isn't known. McFadden noted the park won't receive the royalties until a transmission line is built from the park.
The park board also is slated to receive a right-of-way fee for the property crossed by the line.
The signing fee has allowed the park board to make improvements, such as refurbishing its golf course, adding a fence between the course and the entrance road and installing new playground equipment.
There also are plans to build a 160-square-foot storage building for tractors and other equipment used to maintain the grounds and its golf carts, which have been the target of vandals in recent years because they are stored outside.
The park board also plans to hire a consultant to aid it in planning future additions aimed at drawing more people to the park. A water park, ice skating rink and opportunities for snowboarding or skiing have been considered by the group.
McFadden and other park officials said they are comfortable it will be done safely, adding it brings a major source of revenue to the park, which had been struggling financially.