bev.gif (7221 bytes)   BEVERLY HAPPENINGS

Beverly Brainstorms for Recreational Opportunities

Submitted by: Cindy Karelis, Beverly ON TRAC VISTA

There is no better way to answer a question than through “brainstorming,” according to Emily Carlson, and she came to Beverly Monday seeking feedback, insight, and community input regarding the health-centered and recreational priorities of the small town.
A landscape architect professionally, Carlson is a designer and community planner with the consulting firm Downstream Strategies, LLC. Located in Morgantown, the consultant team was recently hired by Historic Beverly Preservation to determine the feasibility of developing recreational amenities for the town, in particular, a walking trail.
“Does anyone here go to Elkins for wellness classes and exercise opportunities?” Carlson asked the group of nearly two-dozen gathered at the Presbyterian Church annex.

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“Can you see those happening here?” she further asked when she challenged local residents to imagine the potential for recreational facilities in close proximity to Beverly.
Funded under the West Virginia Main Street and ON TRAC Growing Healthy Communities Grant – a program funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources – Downstream Strategies’ approach will include an analysis and comparison of existing recreational facilities with the needs of the community as perceived by its citizens.

Awarded to Historic Beverly Preservation, Inc., for Beverly ON TRAC in 2015, the grant’s main goal is to encourage healthy behaviors and physical activity in Beverly. As part of their contracted work, Downstream Strategies will draft an Active Community Plan “that will incorporate the elements discovered during the earlier research and listening phases, providing an implementation path toward the community’s goals in health, growth, and quality of life,” according to Carlson.
Feedback from the group included the desire to see the calming of traffic through town, a horseshoe pitching park, tennis courts, fishing clubs, wellness classes and classes on solar efficiency, and the establishment of regular health fairs held in Beverly for easy access.

Discussion regarding the construction of a walking trail – the primary objective of the awarded grant – reviewed location options that include down by the Tygart Valley River near town, an in-town walking route, on the perimeter of the Beverly Cemetery, up to the Mt. Iser Confederate Cemetery, and further out-of-town at the 4-H Camp Pioneer. By popular vote of those gathered, the river path behind the water plant and the hillside path to Mt. Iser were the most popular, respectively. Carlson participated in an on-site tour of all the potential locations before Monday’s meeting.
In a support letter signed in 2015, Mayor David Harper pledged the Beverly Town Council’s full support and participation in the planning process of the healthy community initiatives provided for under the Growing Healthy Communities Grant and the subsequent inclusion of such planning in the Town Comprehensive Plan. He also expressed support for accessing Town of Beverly property that may be included in trail development routes.

“Getting this grant is a good thing,” said Rusty Linger, Tax Payer Representative on the Randolph County Parks and Recreation Board. “People are so much more health conscious now,” Linger explained about the increase in such grants being awarded to areas in need. “For whatever reason, Beverly was likely overlooked in the past,” he added about the current lack of recreational facilities closer to the town.
In seeking to gain as much information as possible, Carlson also asked those gathered, “What else can Beverly improve on?” Her scope of work includes the creation and publication of a Beverly Wellness Survey which can be accessed at https://goo.gl/dYIVgG or at www.historicbeverly.org/plan.htm. All data collected will be contributed toward the Town of Beverly Comprehensive Plan currently being developed.
“You should be engaged as much as you can with the comprehensive planning process of your town,” Carlson stated about Beverly and its public health initiatives. A second public meeting will be announced in the future. In the meantime, she encourages anyone interested in being part of a focus group addressing community issues to contact her at www.downstreamstrategies.com.
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