MORGANTOWN — Here’s an impression of BOPARC Executive Director Melissa Wiles reading through public feedback received as part of the lower Marilla Park re-imagining process.
“Pickleball, pickleball, green space, pickleball.”
Pickleball, Wiles explained, has been very well represented in an ongoing public input process that’s prompted some 300 survey replies and recently drew more than 50 attendees to a session regarding the future of Marilla Park.
“Overall, the areas of interest in what people would like to see in lower Marilla were improvements to existing facilities — things like tennis courts, other courts and the skate park — as well as an emphasis on green space and activities, like pickleball,” she explained.
While King Kong ping pong is currently all the rage in recreational circles, the path forward for lower Marilla Park will be far more akin to a giant set of dominos.
And the first piece that has to fall is the 65-year-old Marilla Pool.
According to Wiles, BOPARC anticipates putting its new $9 million-to-$11 million pool complex in upper Marilla Park out for bid in September.
Once those bids are in, planning for lower Marilla Park can begin in earnest.
“We have to have a completion date on [new] Marilla Pool, really, before we can talk about demoing the current Marilla Pool, so that we can then move the skate park,” Wiles recently told members of BOPARC’s Board of Directors. “It all hinges back to the pool.”
Wiles told The Dominion Post her current expectation is that the old Marilla Pool likely has one more summer left in it.
“I would doubt … the new Marilla Pool would be finished in time for the 2024 season. We had some hope that it would at one point, but due to the timing of the planning process and the extent of the project itself, we’ll more than likely be at current Marilla for one more season,” she said.
“It’s a huge project compared to anything else we’ve ever done and if you think about it, we are really only eight months away from pool preparation for the ’24 season.”
BOPARC is working with The Thrasher Group on the post-pool plans for the lower park.
A central component of the park’s reconfiguration looks to be the relocation of an upgraded skate park to the area currently occupied by the old pool.
That would provide BOPARC the option to move the tennis courts to the other side of the Marilla Center, where the skate park is currently located.
Doing so, Wiles explained, “would allow for the addition of a rectangular, grass recreational field at the entrance of Marilla Park.”
She said that field would share the overall space with basketball courts and other amenities, including pickleball courts.
Anyone interested in sharing feedback regarding BOPARC’s plans for Marilla Park can do so at email@example.com.