Playground toys bought

The Buckhannon City Council will be receiving new playground equipment for the City Park soon that includes handicapped accessible units.

“There’s been some discussion about having playground equipment availability for special needs children,” City Administrator Michael Doss said. “Certainly the playground equipment we purchased will accommodate that.”

Doss said that additional stand-alone playground units accessible by children with special needs also could still be purchased.

“We can be an inclusive playground at City Park, and ultimately we’ll want to do that for our other parks within the city of Buckhannon,” Doss said.

A shipment of new American with Disabilities Act-compliant playground equipment for the City Park will be delivered to the city in about six weeks. Doss also said that the playground equipment may not be installed until after winter, depending on weather conditions and the possible need to hire a contractor for the installation. He said he hopes the equipment will be installed in May.

Doss said that city projects like the new National Guard armory and conference center on Brushy Fork have been keeping city workers busy.

Doss said he was able to obtain grant money to buy the equipment, saving the city about $30,000. The total cost of the equipment, including shipping fees, was $27,370.

Elissa Mills, a Park Street resident who lives near the Buckhannon City Park, again addressed City Council after notifying council members at a previous meeting about a concern with the safety of the park. Mills said the park no longer felt safe at night because of a growing drug problem.

This time, Mills thanked the council members and city police officers for their additional support. She said she would like to have the fence that used to line the back of the park replaced so that officers can more easily catch some of the drug users who attempt to flee.

“Some people say we have no drug problem,” Councilman Ron Pugh said. “It may be a bit lighter here than in other places, but we do have a drug problem. I’d like to see it go away. I can’t stand the drug problem. It upsets me.”

Council members said that before they could make a decision, the request would have to be presented to the Consolidated Public Works Board that meets at 4 p.m. Thursday.

“We need to do something more than what we’re doing, or we need to involve the county also,” Councilman Dave Thomas said. “I think our justice system is not what it ought to be today. It’s broken in some way.”

Council members said the fence was damaged heavily by storms and was unfit to put back in place. Mills offered to help find a way to fund the purchase of a new fence. She said that since the illegal activity was reported, more of the suspects have been navigating toward the back of the park. She said the fence could help.

Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory also addressed the council with a concern that was brought to his attention by an unidentified citizen. He said the citizen complained about the frequency of parallel parking against the direction of traffic in many areas of town.

Gregory said West Virginia state code makes parking against the direction of traffic illegal, but that Buckhannon police officers have only been enforcing the code on Main Street. He said the driver’s side of a vehicle should never be parked against the curb. Gregory said that parking in such a manner is a safety risk.

Gregory also said he does not think the police officers should instantly start enforcing it. He said they should initially provide public notice.

Pugh said that he agrees with enforcing the law. He said the law should be black and white and not gray.

Thomas suggested to start enforcing it on Dec. 1, allowing the public about two months to be informed of the plans to enforce it.