ST CLAIRSVILLE - Central Park is coming to the city of St. Clairsville.
The city's new park, which has been in the planning stages for several years, is finally beginning to take shape behind the J.B. Martin Recreation Center near St. Clairsville High School.
While a brand new amphitheater was recently built at that location, many other recreational aspects are being planned for the new park, including: a sand volleyball area, basketball courts, a deck hockey court, playground areas, picnic and green areas, a dog park, and possibly a "fit trail," according to St. Clairsville Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Barr.
St. Clairsville Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Barr stands near a newly built amphitheater, which is part of the of Central Park in St. Clairsville.
Barr said the lawn chair seating-type amphitheater is a design he came up with after visiting 19 other similar venues that had summer concert series. He visited venues in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. Barr said city employees, along with many volunteers with East Richland Friends Church, were responsible for the actual construction of the new amphitheater.
Barr said they are currently working on a summer concert series schedule for the new amphitheater, to be held Tuesday evenings from June through August, and hope to expand the schedule next year to include the spring and fall seasons.
He said the grand opening for the facility is scheduled for June 5. Events already being planned for the venue include: a rib cook-off, band bash, church music events, a bluegrass event and possibly a fall festival, spring festival and other seasonal events.
"We're hoping to use it a lot - spring through fall," Barr added.
He said the city has applied for state and federal grant funds to help with the overall costs of the new park. He said they continue to apply for additional grants while working on one project at a time at the park,
Barr said the property is part of the old St. Clairsville High School practice football field. He said after the city purchased the old Belmont County Fairgrounds several years ago, officials were able to essentially make a "trade of property" with the school system and take ownership of the old football field and additional green space, while the school system took ownership of the old fairgrounds site - a transaction he said has been very beneficial for both parties.
Barr said he believes St. Clairsville Central Park will be a huge benefit for the community.
"We started out on flatbed trucks, and now we have a great amphitheater. ... Hopefully it will bring more people into St. Clairsville," he added.
St. Clairsville Mayor Robert Vincenzo said, "We're expecting to draw great programs for the summer. ... It's just something for the community. You've got to liven up the community in the summertime to give back to the people."