OAK HILL — Officials from the City of Oak Hill have been working diligently to improve opportunities for physical activity for the community’s residents.
Among recent ventures is the creation of the Needleseye Bouldering Park. The city also has instituted a Meet Me at the Park initiative, inviting members of the community out to explore one of the city’s many parks. The first such observance was this fall at the Russell E. Mathews Park in the city’s East End. Oak Hill teamed up with Active Southern West Virginia to host a 1-mile hike at that event. Other Meet Me at the Park days will be set in 2020.
Early this month, City Manager Bill Hannabass completed an application for a $5,000 Take Back Our Health Physical Activity Mini-Grant to provide signage for Oak Hill’s growing park and trail system. The mini-grant program is sponsored by the West Virginia University College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences through a partnership with West Virginia Health Promotion and Chronic Disease. The competitive one-time mini-grants range from $1,000 to $5,000.
In the mini-grant application, Hannabass described the project: “This grant will provide for signage and mapping on the White Oak Rail Trail, Harlem Heights Loop trail and trails in Needleseye Park. This is needed at these recreation venues to provide information including distance, directional, regulatory and cautionary signs. …
“The mapping of various trails will make an easier way to illustrate the location and features of the trails to improve the marketing to a broader range of users. Increasing awareness and improved usability of the trails through mapping and signage will encourage a wide range of users and groups. Active Southern West Virginia is a partner with the City of Oak Hill through participation on the Recreation Committee by an employee and a board member. Active Southern West Virginia is committed to attracting diverse users to utilize trails and other means to get active.”
Oak Hill also is working in conjunction with the New River Gorge Trail Alliance, the New River Gorge Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Oak Hill Lions Club on improving the city’s trails.
While Hannabass is hopeful the city will be awarded a mini-grant, he said the need is vital and the city will have to complete a signage project regardless.
“Needleseye Park is poorly marked. We just need signage,” he said prior to Monday night’s city council meeting.
“We’re wanting a little bit of assistance, but even without it, we’re going to have to move ahead. Good signage is important. It informs people. It looks good.
“I’d like to have a cohesive plan through the community,” he said.
Hannabass pointed out the city has many venues at which its citizens and visitors can take part in physical activity, including City Park, Collins Park, Needleseye, the Collins Park Disc Golf and Obstacle Course and the White Oak Rail Trail.
“I’d like to see signage uniform throughout. It’s going to take some time and effort to get a plan,” he said, but added he hopes to work on the project this winter “when things are a little slack.”
Funds will be awarded in early January 2020, according to a news release from the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences.
“We are excited to put wind in the sails of the physical activity champions across the state who are already doing great work. These funds will hopefully allow them to expand their efforts for greater reach and effectiveness,” Sam Zizzi, Dr. Pat Fehl Endowed Professor and associate dean for research of CPASS, said in the release.
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