KINGWOOD — Kingwood Parks and Recreation is proceeding with upgrades to city facilities, while waiting out the end of the COVID-19 shutdown.
Work has begun to install a diving board at the city pool and plans are being made to replace the 20-year-old play structure at Brown’s Park and the 41-year-old public address system at the Craig Civic Center.
Parks and recreation is an arm of city government, funded through a combination of user fees, a city levy and money from council. In the 2020-21 budget, council allocated money for facility improvements. It also set aside $50,000 as a match for grants to install a splash pad at the pool.
Part of the money comes from Kingwood’s new 1% municipal sales tax.
“We want to make sure that for all of us who are paying the tax that it goes back into the community, and parks and recreation is part of that,” Councilwoman Michelle Whetsell said.
Kingwood Parks and Recreation Supervisor Kevin Stiles said the castle play structure at Brown’s Park will be replaced.
“It’s in decent shape, but it’s getting old and I want something with a little more for the kids to do on it,” he said. He wants “a play structure with some climbing stuff and a slide or two, something comparable to what’s there at the elementary school.”
He is looking at models costing $20,000-$25,000. Normally it takes about four weeks to receive the item once ordered, but Stiles isn’t sure how the coronavirus will affect that.
“Browns Park is one of our most used places. It is booked from May through September, Saturday and Sunday. You drive through there any Sunday evening and it’s packed with people, with kids playing on the stuff,” Stiles said.
Two years ago Kingwood reopened the city pool after a five-year closure. It is popular with residents, and the Trenton Foundation has given a $10,000 grant for a diving board.
It is one of only two public pools in Preston County, offers swimming lessons and can be rented as well. Pool users have requested a splash pad for younger children.
The estimated cost of a splash pad is $100,000. Council set aside $50,000 in hopes of getting a grant.
“If you’ve got half your money, they’re more apt to give you the other half,” Stiles noted. If the grant doesn’t come through, he hopes council will add more money next year.
The pool loses about $2,000 a year.
“But it’s a service that a lot of people use and hopefully they’ll enjoy it,” Stiles said. “Council’s thought is that’s something to give to the community. They’re willing to spend that.”
There are also plans to add more picnic tables under the pavilion by the pool.
Another popular recreational facility is the Craig Civic Center, which is usually busy all the time. Council set aside $7,000 to replace the PA system.
“It’s an antique and it’s hard to keep it working and the sound is terrible,” Stiles said.
The center is closed during the COVID-19 shutdown. Not all events can be rescheduled, Stiles said. Luckily parks’ annual gun bash was held before the shutdown, so he can dip into that $12,000 to help with expenses.