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Investment in recreation a must

Discussions concerning economic development point to a small group of selling points when it comes to attracting residents and businesses.

In addition to educational opportunities, available infrastructure, housing stock and health care, many point to what recreation is available in a community as a matter of importance.

That’s why we hope a public workshop held last week between Weirton City Council and the city’s Board of Parks and Recreation helps to bring more investment into the community’s recreation.

Maintaining two parks, a recreational trail, more than a dozen neighborhood playgrounds and the Millsop Community Center takes a lot of work by a small group of employees and a volunteer board. It’s not a money-making operation, but it certainly needs funding to make certain the facilities are operational, clean and safe for the residents of our area.

City Council does provide a yearly allotment of funds, primarily for salaries and basic operational costs, and there have been some emergency situations where money has been provided. Other than that, the park board turns to community sponsors, grants and contributions from other local governmental entities or civic groups for its programs and investments.

The ongoing effort to pave the Panhandle Trail, for example, has received funds through a state grant, the park board itself, a local foundation and contributions from the commissioners in Hancock and Brooke counties. Parks officials are trying to obtain a loan for improvements at Marland Heights Park, and the Starvaggi Park Civic Association is hoping to obtain funds to help with improvements to the playground the group worked to have installed close to two decades ago. The playground at Marland Heights Park also was improved by the efforts of residents.

A strong line of communication among members of Weirton’s City Council and the Park Board is important, as is future investment in time as well as dollars, to ensure the region’s recreational opportunities continue to grow.

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