Oak Hill city council on Monday night addressed adding further protections to Needleseye Park.

OAK HILL — City council Monday had the first reading of an ordinance to further define and safeguard the use of Needleseye Park in the future.

In May 2019, the city christened Needleseye Park, which is a rock climbing, hiking and mountain biking park on a large tract of land in the Minden area. The West Virginia Land Trust partnered with the city to buy 283 acres of land from Berwind Land Co. for the purpose of public recreational use.

According to Oak Hill City Manager Bill Hannabass, council is considering an ordinance to define Needleseye Park by adopting the deed as well as adopting an accompanying conservation easement agreement.

At Monday’s regular meeting, which was held at Calvary Baptist Church, council agreed unanimously on first reading to move forward with the ordinance for the city-owned park. A second reading will occur at the November meeting.

The purposes of the easement are “to create a publicly accessible, nonmotorized outdoor recreation and open space property, as well as a nature preserve and refuge for wildlife on the property, by retaining it forever predominantly in its natural, forested, undeveloped condition, and preventing any use of the property that will significantly impair or interfere with the conservation values of the property,” the proposed ordinance reads in part.

For example, Hannabass said West Virginia Land Trust representatives have expressed concerns with motorized vehicles utilizing the property, and they asked the city to do its part in preserving the park’s intended use. Hannabass said he fully understands the group’s request.

He said further signage reminding the public motorized vehicles are not allowed on the property will be placed in the area, individuals not heeding the signs will receive warnings, and a fine of $250 will eventually be assessed for those not following the guidelines.

The goal is “to put some teeth into it,” said Hannabass. “(Assessing fines) is the last thing we want to do, but ...”

There will be social media postings in coming weeks to apprise the public of the planned ordinance.

The conservation easement also addresses numerous other areas, such as promoting “the application of excellent forest management practices to con- serve, maintain and/or restore the native ecosystem and its ecological processes, soil productivity, water quality, biological diversity and natural wildlife and plant habitat, scenic and open space values, and for timber and non-timber forest productions.”

The overall intent is to “establish Needleseye Park for the purpose of protecting and enhancing water quality, conserving wildlife habitats, providing publicly accessible recreational opportunities and activities, and protecting natural resources and scenic values of the park for present and future genera- tions.”

Trail building by various volunteer groups at the park is ongoing, and “they’re continuing to expand,” Hannabass said. In addition, the Mountain State Trail Alliance plans a bike trail on the property which will “connect down to Rend Trail in Minden.”

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