County continues to seek feedback on long-range parks plans

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“I don’t want you to write that we’re building a beach, because we’re not,” Washington County Planning Commission Director Lisa Cessna emphasized when talking about tonight’s public comment session on long-range plans for two of the county parks.


At the two-hour open house, scheduled for 6 p.m. in Exhibit Hall No. 2 at the Washington County Fairgrounds, 16 drawings and maps will be on display, and a few of them show a sandy beach and boardwalk at Cross Creek County Park near West Middletown.


“A beach for Cross Creek is being discussed, but it’s not set in stone,” Cessna continued. “Do we really want to put this in the plan, or not?”


Swimming is not now permitted in Cross Creek lake, but that’s not to say no one has ever taken a dip in a secluded cove on a stifling hot day. The lake is primarily for fishing, kayaking, canoeing and boats propelled by 10-horsepower engines or smaller.


A final draft is due June 13, so the county will continue to collect comments online – in addition to those received at the open house – at www.wacountyparksplan.com.


A 19-point survey is available at the website, and Cessna said it will remain through June. Those attempting to submit the survey experienced some difficulties after its launch, but Cessna said the glitches were remedied.


In addition to the terrace for seating above a sandy beach and its parking area, drawings submitted by GAI Consultants depict what lakeside, prairie and woodland trails at Cross Creek might look like. A map shows features labeled “eco-lab,” and “event lawn,” a wetland boardwalk and an area designated for scouts to go primitive camping. The park has three picnic areas and a fourth is being built on Thompson Hill.


At Mingo Creek County Park in Nottingham Township, drawings depict an amphitheater just past the park office, a streamside boardwalk and a nature center to house programs during inclement weather. Drawings also show stepping stones for those fording the creek. Mingo has nearly 20 bridges, Cessna estimated, some of which carry vehicular traffic and others that are designed solely for pedestrians.


Equestrians, now limited to trails, may in the future have access to a meadow.


Because youngsters are drawn to Mingo Creek to see “critters,” Cessna said, a streamside boardwalk would make the waterway more accessible, especially for preschoolers.


The county Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for 5,500 acres. Because the 25-acre Ten Mile Park in East Bethlehem Township near Fredericktown is so much smaller than Mingo Creek and Cross Creek parks, it will remain as is.


The deadline to submit a final report to the Washington County commissioners is July 3.


In another matter related to recreation in Washington County, Randy Vankirk, purchasing director, said it is likely that the commissioners today will reject all bids to resurface a total of nine miles along the 17-mile Panhandle Trail, because the costs were much higher than the amount budgeted.


The planning commission sought bids to place an asphalt surface on heavily-used parts of the trail in Burgettstown and McDonald and areas prone to being washed out by rainstorms. Other sections of the trail have a surface composed of crushed limestone.


Those submitting bids were Paris Contracting, $1,472,686; Russell Standard, $1,268,850; and East Coast Paving, $884,437. Cessna said she had budgeted $500,000 for the project.


There was some hope of handling part of the project in-house, but Cessna said Wednesday that research over the winter aimed at finding a smaller paver that could be towed behind a truck proved fruitless because the company that manufactured the piece of equipment is no longer making it.


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