3:00pm: Hotline with Dave Weekley

State Park upgrades to start November 1

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia State Park system is in desperate need of an overhaul. The overhaul is on the way according to Division of Natural Resources Director Steve McDaniel.

“A lot of our cabins were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1940’s and they really haven’t had a lot of upgrades to them,” McDaniel explained on MetroNews Talkline.

However, that will change in the months ahead after the department has been cleared to sell $80 Million in bonds to fund upgrades and renovation to the facilities. McDaniel indicated they expect they can get all of the work done for about $60 Million. The work will include a sprawling system consisting of 35 state parks, seven state forests, and two rail trails.

“The first thing we’re going to do it start remodeling cabins,” McDaniel said. “We’ll be going in there putting in new heating and air conditioning units and remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms.”

There are 180 cabins in West Virginia’s State Parks and Forests and they are popular attractions. McDaniel noted eight out of ten visitors to West Virginia will return for another visit. The natural beauty in the Mountain State keeps them coming back. He said they need to alter the amenities to continue to be competitive with neighboring states.

“Looking at the comment cards, our beauty speaks for itself, but the one issue we have are our facilities,” he explained. “So if we want to be compete with other park systems in the region, we’ve got to upgrade and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The bonds are expected to be sold in October and the work to begin in November. McDaniel said there will be a very narrow window for the improvement work since they need to do it between November first and May 1st. Work in the summertime is a non-starter since it is the time of highest occupancy within the state park system. Although a narrow timeline, it will be accelerated. According to McDaniel they’ll have to spend 85 percent of the money on those renovations in the next three years.

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