OAK HILL, W.Va. — The newest addition to the New River Gorge region’s attractions for outdoor enthusiasts was inaugurated Tuesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Needleseye Boulder Park in Fayette County.
The 283-acre site was purchased through a partnership involving the City of Oak Hill and the West Virginia Land Trust, which received a grant from the West Virginia Department of Commerce Outdoor Conservation Heritage Fund to buy the property from Berwind Land Company for nearly $600,000.
Oak Hill City Manager William Hannabass said he expects the economic benefits of the new park, which features a network of hiking, biking, and climbing-access trails, will become evident, almost immediately.
“It’ll bring tourists in, obviously. It’ll compliment some of the private companies that are here. They are welcome to come and utilize this with their guests,” he said. “It’s also a nice thing if you’re a resident. When you come here, you will start planning on when you can return. It’s that nice.”
Other than the construction of trails designed specifically for mountain biking, Hannabass anticipated minimal augmentations to the interior of the park, beyond the addition of standard structures and equipment normally used for safety and maintenance.
“We would like to add pavilions for folks to meet, and very small roads, so that we can maintain the park. But, we want to keep it as natural as possible. There will be no motorized traffic allowed, other than for maintenance or emergencies,” said Hannabass.
West Virginia Land Trust Executive Director Brent Bailey told MetroNews the initial proposal by Oak Hill to acquire the land fit the necessary criteria for assistance through fund-raising and the grant solicitation process.
“The City of Oak Hill contacted us and said ‘We’d love to make this a preserve but we could use some help.’ And so, we worked with the landowner, who was willing to sell and who wanted to see it serve the purposes for the community,” said Bailey, noting the easement which was part of the final agreement.
“It restricts the use of the property, forever. The deed is permanently indicated to use this property for public recreation. So, it’ll always be that. It can’t be developed for anything else,’ he said.
According to Hannabass, Needleseye Park eventually will include small playgrounds and restrooms at the top and the bottom of the cliffside portion, along with a new access road at the bottom and a parking lot at the top.